Did that title sound Daily Bugle enough? WARNING: The following contains obnoxious opinions, language and potential spoilers!
Spider-man 3 was a dark time for fans of the Webslinger. It was such a disappointment that Sony killed the franchise and most fans don’t even speak of it. So what happened? Spider-man 1 and 2 were both homerun films and fans were foaming at the mouth for more. Not to sound like a raving Jameson, but I have some understanding of how it went down, and it was all the director’s fault. Fans were demanding Venom and Sony wanted to deliver, but director Sam Raimi thought his franchise was better off without the fan favorite symbiote. Why? I have no idea, I honestly believe that Sony having to force Raimi to use the character is the dumbest situation in comic film history. Regardless, Raimi still wanted to use his original story layout, so the black suit and Venom stuff was haphazardly thrown into the script to appease fans and executives alike. So what fans got was a Peter Parker/Hot Topic spokesperson and a Venom who was on screen for about 6 minutes and was played by the completely wrong type of actor. I got nothing against Topher, but he is NOT Eddie Brock, no way in hell!
Aside from cartoons and video games, that was where it was left. However, from the mystical Land of Unsubstantiated Rumors, there were whispers of a Venom film from Sony being in development as early as 2007. For over a decade rumors swirled and swirled about Venom making his big comeback. The Amazing Spider-man franchise seemed a likely doorway, but after the lackluster performance of the second film, Sony not only gave up on ANOTHER Spidey franchise but worked out a deal to move Spider-man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultimately not a bad call at all, but I was sour because I was enjoying the Andrew Garfield Spiderman movies. Around the same time, the Venom movie, an actual officially confirmed Venom movie, was working on pre-production. The confusion was real. How could Sony use Spider-man to set up Venom amongst of all the new character deals with Disney. The answer was actually quite simple; They wouldn’t…
Sony was, and still is making some really weird calls with their comic rights. The Venom movie, a Morbius movie starring Jared Leto (Skipping that one!), a Black Cat and Silver Sable movie…..basically a movie universe made up of Spider-man characters but no Spider-man. Even my inner fanboy can barely stomach that kind of planning. Obviously it also led to a lot of internet shouting and boycott declaration, which is common these days, but when Venom came out, the reviews were equally as bad, citing bad storytelling and pacing issues. Despite this, after seeing the trailers, I held out hope. I love Venom, he is one of my all time favorite villains in Marvel comics, and the trailers seemed to be loyal to the character despite some modifications. So, I put on my Spider-man shirt, sat down in the theater and prayed to the Movie Gods that Sony could deliver on my expectations. What I got left me split between my fanboy self and my filmmaking self, and I have a feeling that's exactly the overall response this movie will get.
SPOILERS AHEAD PEOPLE
-Tom Hardy is absolutely fantastic in this film. His separate performances as Venom and Eddie Brock both carry weight and lead to some dynamite dialogue and hilarious dark humor that is sure to resonate with fans and moviegoers alike. Anti-hero films seem like a good path to choose for the freshening up of the comic genre, and Hardy’s performance more than proves that here. The future of Venom in Hollywood is unknown, but I hope Tom Hardy is a part of that future. His passion and understanding of a character he loves makes his performance the strongest pillar holding up this film.
-The humor mentioned above was a more than welcome surprise. Venom has a rather unique set of quips in the comics and that struck gold on the big screen. I found myself laughing for all the right reasons as Venom’s obnoxious and violent opinions are played out in hilarious fashion. If this version of the character ever gets to meet a Spider-man or a Deadpool, it will be absolutely perfect.
-Venom’s voice modulation was perfect, I went berserk hearing him speak. It sounded exactly how I imagined it. Hats off to the sound crew!
-Looking past the more obvious comic omissions, Sony’s efforts to stay loyal to the character are noticeable and appreciated. Venom strikes all the right cords from his comic counterpart. He’s dark and violent and enjoys those traits way too much. Even during attempts at redemption, his methods are far from the cape-sporting crowd-pleasers we are all too familiar with. Venom’s journey from page to screen was a great one, with some of his dialogue being taken straight from his comics. Many fans and critics are condemning this movie for not following the comics to the letter, but they did an excellent job modeling the character and I don’t think they get enough credit for that. Also, Venom ate heads, like legit bit people’s heads off, and it was epic!
-WOOHOO CARNAGE TEASE AFTER THE CREDITS!!! Woody Harrelson’s rendition of Cletus Kasady is chilling even in the few moments you get with the character. This movie is already about to break even financially as I’m writing this, and it hasn’t even been released in China yet, so I have no doubt that a sequel will be made. My one warning is that Sony will really need to go for an R-rating if they wanna do a good Carnage story. Seriously, read the comics, he is a fucked up individual…
-This movie is STUFFED with references and easter eggs. Like J. Jonah Jameson’s son is in this! I found myself giggling at every nod I was presented with. As an avid comic reader I love stuff like that, but I get when moviegoers get frustrated by it.
-The one thing the critics are absolutely right about is the pacing. You know when you were a kid and you’d get on a treadmill and see how fast you could run before flying off of the back? Imagine that in movie form. This movie starts out very slow, and as the plot develops it picks up more and more speed without ever slowing down, until you get to the last 25 minutes of the movie and the entire villain plot is there and gone before you can figure out what the hell is going on. The final confrontation is done in about 4 minutes, and that’s worse than Batman V Superman. Let that sink in…
-Brock and Anne have absolutely 0 chemistry and most of their interactions feel forced and distracting. I don’t blame the actors so much as I blame a rushed shooting schedule and disorganized script. Hopefully these are things that won’t be an issue if there is a sequel.
-While Venom himself gets a long and drawn out character evolution, the villain Riot gets absolutely nothing. He travels from person to person during a very confusing passage of time, only to get to the corporate sleazeball with a rocket so he can go to space. That’s literally it. He just goes “BWAAA I NEED VENOM AND ROCKET TO GO GET SYMBIOTES AND EAT EVERYONE ON EARTH!” It’s Saturday-Morning-Cartoon bad, its DC bad!
-You cannot see or understand jackshit during the final fight in this film. It’s as if they got Michael Bay to guest direct for a day. Debris is thrown, grunts are made, goop flies everywhere...none of this is coming out right...Seriously though, if anyone wants to tell me what goes down in this fight, any information is welcome. Bad bad BADDDDD finale.
-PG-13?! YEAH BECAUSE I LOVE CUTAWAY SHOTS AND IMPLIED VIOLENCE…….C’MON REALLY SONY? BOTH DEADPOOL MOVIES MADE SERIOUS MONEY! HOW DO YOU CHICKEN OUT ON THE R-RATING WHEN LITERALLY EVERYBODY WANTED IT?! THERE BETTER BE AN UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT SO HELP ME………..
I get some of the complaints from critics. Venom is a pacing nightmare with a simplistic script that nearly falls apart once the setup is complete. A similar concept film called Upgrade came out just a couple months ago with an original and much more organized premise about 2 entities sharing 1 body. I highly recommend you checking it out, easily a 5 in my book, but I digress. Despite Venom’s flaws, I still believe critics were too hard on it. I’ve seen far worse comic book films than this, primarily a large portion of DC’s catalog and even a few MCU films. Venom is a fun ride that gives diehard fans of the character a Venom they’ve long waited for and always deserved, albeit one that’s lost in a hodgepodge of frantic storytelling.
Movie Zack gives it 3.5 out of 5
Fanboy Zack gives it 4.5 out of 5…..We are Venom…..