"Never take off the mask."
"Never take off the mask."

Unmasked: “Venom”

What’s “Venom” and what does it want?

I already lost the number of times I’ve made a few months break before watching or writing about anything new. I’m not sure if I am the reason for that or the fact that the most recent Hollywood products usually emerge somewhere from the sewers but what I’m certain of is that there’s almost nothing coming out that would immediately grab my interest and throw me into my usual state of hype where I say to myself: “Oh, yeah, I’m definitely going to watch this one.” Despite that, ever since I saw the teaser logo which Sony published when announcing “Venom”, somehow I already knew that I was going to watch this no matter what nonsense it turned out to be. After all, we are talking about a comic hero adaptation for which there have been rumours in the last, let’s say, 10 years and whose last appearance was as a secondary character in a third-grade movie in the best case.

With time passing trailers started raining and my hype got even bigger until that critical moment came, and I say “critical” exactly because the people calling themselves this way were the reason for it, as the movie was destroyed by them, to say the least, and fans started wondering whether this parasite, God knows where from, as the rights for its true origin were held by another company, should’ve just crawled back into the hole in the universe it came from. Due to these reasons and some others which will probably be further explained later, I decided to write this review in a liiitle bit more subjective way (but then again, which review isn’t) and try to understand both sides, i.e. why one half of the viewers literally tries to obliterate the movie and the other tries to justify it and find its strengths, and figure out where the truth actually lies and whether what I think about “Venom” corresponds with it. Read on and decide for yourselves.

Why do I consent with the critics?

Let’s start with the main point stated and the reason why “Venom” received such “favourable” scores from the critics – the plot. Here, unfortunately for all fans, myself included, I’d have to agree. And no, not because we’re talking about a hero from the universe of one of the most iconic superheroes (Spiderman – for those of you, who have somehow never heard of him) which has been completely secluded with no visible signs of a grand crossover in the near future (although the movie is made “in association with Marvel”) only because the rights for it are held by Sony – we’ve already seen that before, so nothing new there. And even not  because, as I’ve already mentioned, Fleischer and his crew have come with an extremely far-fetched story for Venom’s origins only to make it more plausible. I’d also be willing to ignore all the things that are somehow related to the Spider-verse and are changed here (especially when considering the fact that half of the people who are going to watch the movie have most likely only heard of Spiderman and don’t even know what the hell is a Venom) but even when doing this, I still can’t honestly say anything good about the plotline.

In theory this scene looked pretty stunning but in reality it turned out to be two british hotheads and some sort of flying, dark and slimy liquid with nothing else that could be properly distinguished.

The storyline starts extremely monotonous and slow in the first hour of the movie and afterwards, when the real stuff is supposed to happen, metaphorically speaking, everything is so chaotic and rushed that there comes a moment where a person cannot figure out what the hell is happening on screen and, as it goes, who are our guys and who should we root for? There are scenes where things are somehow turned upside down without any visible reason and the seemingly dramatic moments (especially towards the end of the movie) don’t cause any bursts of emotions from the audience whereas the more expected events with painfully obvious consequences are filled with way too much suspense and cheesy one-liners. Not to mention all the nonsense and huge plotholes in the script without any logical explanation why things happen in a certain way (POSSIBLE SPOILER: a simple example – the parasite who was supposed to find the perfect host and literally killed everything else it inhabited beforehand had no problems with achieving symbiosis with one of the more tender characters in the movie and with coming back like a loyal dog to his already confirmed better half).

At times I had the feeling I was watching “Deadpool”, being a witness to Tom Hardy’s schizophrenia and the ridiculous jokes and references the two bros were sharing with each other and at others we were shown some dark and filled with suspense scenes and PG-13 head eating which would be more of a DC thing or at least what they’re trying to achieve. The truth is that “Venom” wants to be the different Marvel movie by avoiding the bright tones and the colourful plot with darker sense of humour and more “adult” content but in the end is nothing more than another generic action, at least in terms of screenplay.

Why do I support the fans?

With everything said so far you’d probably think that I didn’t like “Venom” like the critics said and to some extent you would be right. However, there are a couple things which, even though I could count on the fingers on one of my hands, could still pull the parasite out of the mud it had been voluntarily stuck in. One of the reasons is hidden behind the title itself and the other one is his BFF. That’s right, the main reason for me to get hyped for this movie and not be completely disappointed in the end was Tom Hardy. I’ve seen too many movies with him already to not get impressed by his british looks but his charisma is obvious and even when trying to imitate some fake american accent, he still manages to do his job properly. Used to being a comic villain (although in this case we’re talking more about an anti-hero), Hardy plays his cards right and Eddie Brock is probably the most believable and closest thing in the movie to the original source. Although sometimes too generic and trivial, the exchanged comments between him and his CGI alter-ego are the movie’s comic relief and the thing that justifies its teenager rating to a certain extent*.

I know it’s about more than a 10-year difference but Venom’s new look is much more believable and realistic than the comic misunderstanding Topher Grace’s one was.

In addition to that, I cannot lie, CGI Venom looks amazing. The scenes in which Hardy has some me-time and talks with his reluctant buddy are probably the most interesting ones in the movie and even though their bromance escalated much, much faster than it should have, I have to admit that the interaction between these two was, again, what saved the film for me. And Venom’s voice and hoarse timbre were also pretty well done and exactly what I expected to hear from a talking symbiote.

Still, even at that more “positive” part of the review, there are things that could be improved as much as people try to defend the movie. People who are familiar with Fleischer’s history probably remember “Zombieland” which is not among my favourites but instead, contrary to most’s belief, I really liked “Gangster Squad” despite all of its problems and the cut version that was actually released. In this case, however, at certain moments what’s happening on the screen is such a mess and a series of chaotics events that for a normal viewer it’s impossible to focus on anything (here, in particular, I’m talking about the fight between Venom and Riot which was already mentioned in the trailers and even there it was pretty clear that the scenes accompanying it were a complete chaos – the image above should tell you enough) and the 3D effects are again non-existent and the extra cash you’re going to pay only to “enjoy” it better is a complete waste of money.

Apart from that this time I cannot even say something good in terms of casting, just because we have a completely still and emotionless Michelle Williams who could not show me at all that she somehow cares about our hero, as well as the Pakistani rapper Riz MC a.k.a Riot whose only rioting quality was to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong and believe that he can save the world. Well, Mr. Ahmed, I have bad news for you – I’d rather watch Venom against the parasite as a slime stain on the ground than against you at first, and then against a Venom copy-paste, but a little bit more grayish and older. The rest of the cast I wouldn’t care to comment only because I didn’t even try to remember them at all. The only one worth mentioning (and who is actually the second best thing in the movie after Hardy/Venom) is tooo far in the end (the bonus scene) and will possibly be the positive aspect of the movie I’m going to talk about when it comes to “Venom 2” (although we could have understood the message even without the horrible red wig – thank you, Mr. Fleischer).

What do I have to say for myself?

– Eddie. Schnapps.
– But, wait, Mr. Symbiote, didn’t we agree on not drinking anymore today?
– Eddie. Thirsty. Water has parasites, should I be the one to tell you that?
– Okay, okay, but at least don’t eat the cashier’s head this time… Remember what happened last time with the plum one? 

Well, technically I already said what I wanted to. I forgot to mention the minor positive fact that the main story is situated in San Francisco (for which I already wrote enough in the “Ant-Man and The Wasp” and which definitely has nothing to do with the fact that Spider-Man’s main territory is New York and that Eddie Brock has just been outcast from there, riiight) and here the location is again a pre-condition for personally my favourite action part of the movie (and no, it’s not the final fight). Another positive side I could mention is the great soundtrack and Eminem’s song (actually, his whole last album, although it came almost out of nowhere, is amazing but this is a different topic) which I think fits Venom’s tone pretty well or at least its current interpretation. Oh, and yes, the logo is also pretty cool (I did already mention that though, didn’t I? – it seems that there’s really nothing good left to say about this movie).

All in all, “Venom” ambitiously tries to work on a couple of fronts but the problem is that it doesn’t finish the job on any of them. After leaving the cinema hall I was already convinced that there is some amount of truth behind the incredibly different opinions and in the end it’s all a matter of personal taste and expectations (that’s why I tried to present to you the different viewpoints but it seems like it’s better to ignore foreign influence in general and just decide for yourselves whether you’ve liked what you’ve just watched). The movie could be and I really wanted it to be much, much more but it’s actually pretty mediocre and is nothing more than a two-hour mindless fun which could be a waste of your free time and money. As the saying goes, one parasite does not make a superhero movie but the Hardy/Venom duo really felt as they have achieved full symbiosis and considering the box office success the movie actually turned out to be, I leave all my hopes on them for something much more and of better quality in the eventual sequel.

* Actually, they don’t. Now that I think about it, there’s nothing that justifies it. So, please, next time when you decide to make such a movie, put an R rating on it, just for fun. We all saw that “Deadpool” didn’t suffer from it. I understand that Hardy’s boy would also like to watch his father’s endeavours but we, the fans, who know a little bit more about what’s actually going on and, believe it or not, why the movie’s name is not translated in foreign countries, wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit more blood, guts and “carnage”.

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