6 Thoughts on Venom
Venom is kind of a hit! The symbiote superhero film broke the October box office record, pulling in a respectable $80 million. Not bad, considering the headache this film has been to get to the theaters. But credit where credit is due, this film might have legs. I thought it was pretty good.
Movie Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
Obviously, I’d prefer if Venom was given over to Marvel Studios and got to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel can do no wrong. Sony Pictures can definitely do wrong. I had low expectations for the film, and had long ago severed any hope I had for total comic book accuracy. With that in mind, I had an OK time and can legitimately say I enjoyed the film. It’s not a good movie, with a ton of flaws, but it was an ultimately watchable Venom movie. Good for them!
6. Tom Hardy as Venom was the only good part
Venom is not a good movie. The plot is full of holes, the supporting cast is wasted, the CGI is subpar and the overall story is lacking any real entertainment value. But all of that is saved and made watchable by Tom Hardy’s double act of both Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote. They make for a funny and sometimes endearing bromantic comedy, and I’m actually rather pleased with Venom as a character. The CGI is sometimes lacking, and the big spider logo on the chest is very much missed. You need that big splash of white to really make the character stand out. They should have come up with some excuse to put it there.
My only real complaint with the Venom character is that they should have done a better job introducing the symbiote. The movie takes way too long to unite Eddie and the symbiote, but during that time, we get several shots of several symbiotes being tested in a lab. We see the symbiotes in action…but we never see the Venom symbiote in particular. We get the yellow Scream symbiote taking over a bunny rabbit, and then some blue symbiote being used in human trials. But we never actually see the black Venom symbiote do anything in the lab. That’s silly.
We know that the symbiotes have personalities, so why not let the little black goo monster express himself prior to bonding with Eddie? Why not show his journey at all? Maybe he is mischievous and knocks over a science beaker or something. Anything to give the black symbiote some personality and character before he bonds with Eddie. He’s as much a star of the movie as Eddie, but the film ignores the symbiote entirely until they bond. What a waste.
5. I love the behind-the-scenes stories more than the movie
Honestly, I am far more tickled by the behind-the-scenes studio deal-making than I am by the Venom movie. I find it fascinating how this movie came to be, from the studio forcing Venom into Spider-Man 3, to Sony Pictures attempting to build their own massive Spider-Man Cinematic Universe, to Sony Pictures getting smacked down after their Amazing Spider-Man flops, to making the deal with Marvel Studios over the use of Spider-Man, to that success going to Sony’s heads to make them think they could try again with their own massive Spider-Man Cinematic Universe, only now they couldn’t actually use Spider-Man. It’s schadenfreude at its finest! And that whole story is far more entertaining than the story we get in Venom.
4. Jenny Slate was criminally underused
I love Jenny Slate. Like most everybody, I was introduced to her on Parks and Recreation, and she was such a powerful personality and comedic talent. I look forward to seeing her pop up in movies and TV, and her relationship with Chris Evans was one celebrity couple I actually cared about. Jenny Slate is just fun, people. And she is CRIMINALLY UNDERUSED as a supporting character in this movie. Ugh. Her role is slightly important, and she does fine, only to be killed offscreen. It was hugely disappointing. Jenny Slate is better than bit parts!
3. Jenny Slate should have been the villain, and she should have been Scream
No, you know what, I’m not going to let this go! Jenny Slate should have been the villain. Riz Ahmed phoned in his performance as a mean poindexter and had not even an ounce of menace. Jenny Slate would have killed as a lunatic villain. Keep her character the same, as the well-meaning scientist, but then have her infected by a cruel symbiote and turned into a psychotic monster! Then you’ve not only got Jenny Slate delivering a wild and crazy performance, but you’ve got a female villain! We need more of those!
And the female Scream symbiote was right there for the taking! You all saw it, right?! Turns out the Hollywood news was wrong before in that Michelle Lee was not cast as Donna Diego. But the yellow symbiote was there! They used it on the bunny rabbit! It was yellow, red and black, Scream’s colors. But rather than use that symbiote for anything fun, I think it died off screen?
Picture it: Jenny Slate cut loose in her craziest, funniest performance, teamed up with her own wildly colorful and unique-looking symbiote monster. And since she was a good character turned evil by the symbiote, that’s a nice, dark reflection of what could happen if you don’t make pals with your symbiote, like Eddie and Venom. Plus, it gives the villain some pathos, and gives Eddie a personal connection to stopping/saving the scientist.
2. Seriously, Riot? They went with Riot?!
What we got instead was Riz Ahmed failing to be menacing on any level, teaming up with the freakin’ Riot symbiote. Really? Riot?! Out of all the Life Foundation symbiotes you could choose from, you go with the one that looks EXACTLY like Venom?! Big, muscly and black in color? Look, here’s a comment from director Ruben Fleischer about why they went with Riot. He says it was because he was the biggest and had a cool gun-metal gray color. Are you serious? Both of those things made Riot look exactly like Venom in the big, CGI-mess that was the final battle! There was no way to tell the two of them apart! You had four other colorful, unique-looking symbiotes to choose from! You even put the Scream symbiote in your movie and didn’t use it!
Speaking of Riot, his subplot was entirely unnecessary! Why have Riot travel on his own from the crash site to the Life Foundation if Drake was going to bring the symbiotes to the Life Foundation anyway?! What did that journey accomplish? What reason would the symbiote have for going after Carlton Drake anyway? Why not just have Riot be one of the symbiotes that Drake tortured? Then it could have a personal reason for taking control of Drake.
Also, that 6 month time jump really screwed up the Riot subplot. You’re telling us that Riot spent 6 months in the body of that old woman, and she didn’t suffer any health problems? I thought these symbiotes were eating people from the inside out? And Riot didn’t find a better, stronger human to possess than that frail old lady? And he only made it as far as the airport? C’mon! You stupid movie!
1. Everyone involved clearly wanted to be making the sequel instead
Marvel Studios has generally done away with origin stories. Both Black Panther and Spider-Man were introduced whole cloth in Captain America: Civil War, so when it came time for their solo movies, they were ready to hit the ground running. That worked out great! But Sony couldn’t do the same for Venom, and that clearly sucked for everybody involved.
First of all, the most obvious clue is Carnage. In that same comment before about Riot, Fleischer was pretty clear why they couldn’t use Carnage as the villain, and I agree with him: Carnage is just too big. Carnage deserves his own movie. And you can’t explain Carnage without first establishing Venom. And you can’t establish Venom on a whim. You gotta really dig in deep and establish Venom, because he is one freaky concept.
So right off the bat, the filmmakers can’t use the villain they want to use. But also, it must have sucked to have to go through the rigamarole of explaining the symbiotes, bringing Eddie and Venom together and then working through their bonding process. Hardy did his damn best to make that entertaining, but oy, what a slog for the filmmakers. They wanted to make a movie where Venom could kick ass, take names and not have to stop to explain everything.
Granted, I want to see that sequel too. But both we and they had to get through this movie first.