6:30 pm EDT, October 5, 2018

‘Venom’ review: Come for the anti-hero, stay for the laughs

If you aren’t entertained by Venom, you’re taking everything too seriously.

Let’s face it, Sony doesn’t have the best track record with Spidey and his world. That’s why we were all so relieved when they handed over the reigns to Marvel. To see Venom in their hands was a little concerning, but I’m always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and see what they come up with.

Venom is not what you would call “a good movie.” It has story issues, the action is hard to follow at times, and during the film’s climax, there are some interesting physics at work that definitely had me questioning the science. All of that said, Venom successfully entertained me from start to finish. Isn’t that what we really want from a movie these days?

The humor in this movie is organic. It comes from the insane dichotomy of Eddie Brock’s human mentality and Venom’s symbiotic mentality. When forced to share one body for survival, of course their needs are going to clash, and of course that clash would border on ridiculous.

The first time we hear Venom use his voice in Eddie’s head to demand, “FOOD,” I laughed. I knew what was going on, I knew what I had to look forward to. Some might say that it felt unintended, but I never got that impression. The filmmakers knew audiences would laugh. They wanted them to find Venom funny. It makes him less intimidating and more relatable than Riot, who bonds with Drake, our villain.

When Venom is a villain fighting against Spider-man, you want him to be scary and otherworldly. In Venom, he is supposed to be our anti-hero. He and Eddie Brock are the force we are supposed to get behind as Drake and his symbiote try to destroy the world. You can’t make Venom a warm, cuddly character, so you make him funny. Humor is relatable, and a “bad guy” can utilize it to make him seem less evil (see every anti-hero ever).

I said before that this movie isn’t perfect. I meant it. There’s a lot that could be made better, but it doesn’t have to affect your enjoyment of the film as a whole. The story has problems, especially surrounding the timeline and the level of evil that Drake gets away with. The action is difficult. When the symbiotes are not inhabiting their human hosts, it’s hard to keep track of who is landing blows. It becomes a giant black blob on the screen that appears to be fighting itself.

The final fight scene includes a sequence in which Eddie Brock, Carlton Drake, Venom, and Riot inhabit the same space. They become one super-symbiote and it definitely seems to defy the laws of physics. Maybe there’s some comic book explanation as to how this is possible, but I’m not versed in the finer details of Spider-man canon.

I am not a Spider-man scholar. I’ve seen all the movies, I’ve read a comic book or two, but I do not have undying loyalty to the fandom, so therefore, it may be easier for me to look past the movie’s faults than those that expect more from Eddie Brock, from Venom, and from the movie as a whole.

Tom Hardy does a fantastic job in this film playing a totally confused Eddie Brock as he starts hearing voices in his head. Later, once he learns how to balance Venom’s voice and needs with his own, Brock needs to be willing to let Venom take control at times, but without losing sight of their goal. Tom Hardy handles this character growth with ease, and I really can’t imagine anyone else making this role work the way he does.

Michelle Williams is fine in this role, but it’s not her most challenging work. She has a bevy of incredible work behind her, and this role is superficial and boring. She does a decent job with what she’s given, but there has to be a better way to weave Anne Weying into the story.

Riz Ahmed’s Carlton Drake is an over-the-top villain, but I think he needed to be in order to make Venom seem more anti-hero and less villain himself. The role is well played by Ahmed, but, again, is not the most notable role he’s played.

The end credit scene is bound to have Venom fans excited, especially if Sony can manage to find a director that will deliver a better film than Venom. I’ll be there, especially if they continue to use humor in such a clever way. Venom isn’t the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s not the worst, either. It’s an enjoyable trip to the movies, which is all I ever really hope for.

Our Score

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