Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective: Venom

When the first trailer for Venom was released, sans symbiote, I was one of the few people who though that the movie looked at least passable. I wasn’t to bothered that the titular character was absent because Sony, a studio famous for showing the entire fucking movie in the trailer, were trying to add a little mystery to the creature, while also introducing the character that should matter, Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock. Then the second trailer came out (like a turd in the wind, because every bloody review is using this line because, well, the movie really teed us all up) and I was laughing my arse off because it looked so terrible. Now, I’ve seen a lot of movies in which the trailers left a lot to be desired which turned out to be great, but Venom was never going to be one of them. So, here are some of my very spoilerific thoughts about why Venom is such a disaster.

As with the other MCU movies that I’m not a huge fan of, let’s talk about what I liked about Venom before we get to the part about why it’s an abomination. If the movie has one redeeming factor, it’s Tom Hardy. While this is light years from the actor’s best work – and, in fairness to him, Eddie Brock is just a bunch of jittery mannerisms and a ****-load of hunching – Hardy still managed to find a seed of a character in there.
Brock is a disgraced journalist, who baffilingly refers to his former hard-hitting news show by two different names, who lost his job and his fiance, played by the absolutely wasted Michelle Williams, by being a complete dick. It’s due to his continued investigation into Riz Ahmed’s billionaire psychopath (whose name I have to look up -seriously, there is very little of this movie that sticks in the mind) Carlton Drake, who is experimenting on humans by merging them with symbiotes who crash-landed to Earth from his own rocket. Eddie gets dosed with said symbiote, the titular Venom and just like that the first dreadfully boring hour of the movie is over. Fucking ****, I started this paragraph with the intention of saying what I liked about this movie and I’ve already become sidetracked. Which is exactly what watching Venom feels like, tangents upon tangents: some of which are entertaining – Brock and Venom’s relationship does have some genuine laughs – and others that feel like complete dead ends.
Hardy is really the only actor that comes out of Venom with some credit as a completely medicore script contributes to really awful performances from Williams and Ahmed, both of whom I consider blameless because they were given fuck all to work with. I saw Venom yesterday and I’ve already forgotten most of it, which is no surprise considering how inessential it feels. The said fact here is that Venom should be a great cinematic character. He is the perfect shadow side to Spider-Man, and his Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde relationship with Eddie (especially played by an actor as distinguished as Hardy) should be gold, but everything here is so uninspired that it feels more like Daredevil or Spawn – something churned out in the mid-nineties with good faith but bad execution.
Ticking the Romance Box
There is no romance in Venom. Sure, Michelle Williams is supposedly a love interest, given that she plays Brock’s ex, but she never looks like she’s going to take him back. There is something about this plot that I do like, and that’s Williams’ new onscreen boyfriend, Dr Someone (I may have fallen asleep when his name came up), who is a nice guy who clearly isn’t there just to make Eddie look better – Venom skips by the hyper-macho posturing over the girl, and that’s to its credit. On the other hand, Eddie just straight-up hangs out outside of her apartment despite the fact that she dumped him six months ago. It’s 2018, this is not acceptable, it was never acceptable. Please, stop this. I’m begging you.
The Wasted Villain Corner.
I really don’t care if this is an MCU movie or not, but Venom does have the same problems that plague Iron-Man and co. Carlton Duke is not a character. The symbiote that takes him over, called Riot (he’s anything but) isn’t a character either. The action in this movie is pretty flat, but the worst culprit is when Duke and Eddie, plus their alien passengers, face of in a final battle that is such a mess of CGI that I wasn’t sure which character was doing what. This is a basic film-making mistake that should have gone out of style when the car chasing Bond looked nearly identical to the car that Bond was driving in Quantum of Solace. There’s a bit of perspective: Venom is at least better than Quatum of Solace. Every review has used the turd line but I’ll bet I’m the only one who made this comparison. My prize should be to veto any more Venom movies.
Even with a passable Tom Hardy performance, I can’t in good conscience recommend Venom. I understand that watching a car wreck of a movie can be a fun experience on its own, but you really shouldn’t waste your money on something so shamelessly poor.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out the rest of our MCU retrospective, as well as our ongoing look at the Batman cinematic universe, and consider supporting us on Patreon!

By Kevin Boyle

(header image courtesy of Slash Film)

 

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