Welcome to Breaking Geek, a column where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary and reactions to the most interesting news of the week (or whatever he feels like), using his expansive knowledge of all things geek! I have not invited Venom back for the last Breaking Geek of “Venom Week,” as I don’t want to be like a turd in the wind because I HATE his movie.
If you want to read a spoiler-free review of Venom, please read yesterday’s review from LRM‘s very own master reviewer, Fox Trolio. I’ve included the link directly below.
Because today I am giving you a non-traditional, SPOILER-FILLED, Easter Egg included (just a few) “Second opinion” or “double take” with MY thoughts on Venom. And I’m gonna be specific, baby! I’m also going to tear this movie a new asshole.
If that sounds like something you might be into, read on, true believer.
But again, be warned… EXTREME AND COMPLETE SPOILERS AHEAD!
(Seriously, don’t read this unless you have seen the movie, or don’t give a s**t… which is a fair reaction to have…)
First off, F**K SONY! What the f**k have you done to my favorite comic book villain? Again!
This monstrosity is NOT a Venom movie. If there was no title, and Tom Hardy’s character wasn’t named Eddie Brock, I would not realize I am watching a Venom film. It’s like Batman Returns or Solo: A Star Wars Story; it would actually be better if this was an original film, not an attempt (and failure) to bring the story of Venom to the big screen. Because this ain’t Venom. Spider-Man 3 was a better take on Venom’s origin at the very least. AND it had him fighting Spider-Man!
Okay, now with that out of the way, I’m going to break this “review” into three parts, as the film feels like it is three different movies by three different writers.
The First Half – A Complete Bore
No, not just the first act, I’d say from the first minute of the film til the middle of the second act… is boring as s**t. The only redeeming parts are two or three great Easter Eggs, and a stellar performance from Tom Hardy, who always seems like he is giving it all, no matter how little he is given.
A shuttle crashes to Earth carrying symbiotes for the Life Corporation, headed up my Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), and a rescue team is immediately sent to see if there are any survivors, and by that I mean their new alien “assets.” But, there is an astronaut alive in the wreckage! And he’s none other than J. Jonah Jameson’s son – Easter Egg #1 — John Jameson, who is actually an astronaut in the comics and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (remember, he was engaged to Mary Jane in that 2004 film).
Why is he alive? Well, though no one thinks to check — even though Drake is literally monitoring the situation from the Life Foundation building in San Francisco and knows what a symbiote is — he has a symbiote inside named Riot, who we later learn is king of the symbiotes? We’ll get to that…
So, Jameson is loaded into an ambulance and the Riot symbiote switches hosts to a paramedic, then to an old woman, to finally a young girl on its journey to San Francisco. A journey that is so pointless, running side by side with Drake’s already evil plan, that it’s a bummer every time we cut to Riot’s journey, even though it’s basically the only symbiote action we see for 45 minutes (though we don’t see symbiotes cover a person until much, much, later). Completely pointless.
In the meantime, a very kind Eddie Brock, NOTHING like the Brock you know and love from the comics — a worse version than even Topher Grace’s Brock — uses his investigative reporter skills to help mankind, and he doesn’t hate Spider-Man (to be fair, there is no Spider-Man to hate). Brock in the comics is a disgraced reporter for the Daily Globe, who was sent to jail due to a story proven untrue by Spider-Man. Hating Spider-Man and a criminal himself, Venom Brock in the comics is a dick. Tom Hardy is great as Brock, but he’s more Flash Thompson – a later host of the Venom symbiote in the comics – than the Brock I know. Forget anti-hero, Eddie Brock is a goddamn saint.
Yes, the Daily Globe is mentioned as a job Brock left (Easter Egg!), he did used to live in New York, don’t you know, and he does become a disgraced reporter after he turns what is supposed to be a friendly interview with Drake following the shuttle crash, into an investigative report (for the good of the people), using information he stole from his girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams, who has such a bad costume and make-up job she looks at least 20 years older than the rest of the cast) who is a lawyer working a wrongful death case on behalf of the Life Foundation. Needless to say, he gets himself and his girlfriend fired. No one will hire him, with Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle (Easter Egg!) texting Brock they have nothing for him. Obviously, he also gets dumped. So much for being a hero, eh, Brock?
Meanwhile, Drake is testing his symbiotes on human subjects to attain a total and harmonious symbiosis. It needs to be a perfect match, otherwise, the host will die in minutes. Now, these symbiotes need to bond with a creature that breathes oxygen within a certain time or they perish. And even the subjects that bond correctly die after a few weeks, eaten from the inside by their symbiote.
Eventually, Drake’s top scientist Dr. Dora Skirth (a very miscast Jenny Slate) has had enough of the death and goes to Brock for help. He says, “no way” only to eventually change his mind. Because, again, Brock is a hero this time.
At the lab, Brock gets infested by the symbiote and escapes! With really cheesy superpowers and special effects that hearken back to Peter Parker first clumsily jumping between buildings in 2002’s Spider-Man. Yes, this film feels like it was made in the early 2000’s, as it has learned nothing from films in the genre past Spider-Man 3.
2nd Half Of The 2nd Act – Slapstick Buddy Comedy aka The “Good” Part
Now, Drake wants his f**king symbiote back! And Venom finally begins talking to Eddie! This part of the film is great fun, as Fox alluded to in his review, but it does NOT fit the tone of what came before or what comes after.
There is schizophrenia “humor,” slapstick humor of Venom using Brock’s body (but not covering it), and then more humor when Venom does finally show up, in the flesh (which is faaaar too late in the film). This version of Venom does look nearly perfect… but it’s missing that white Spider symbol! It REALLY hurts that Spider-Man is not in this film. Even during this short, entertaining stretch that also has the best action, all I wanted was Venom to fight a bright-suited Spider-Man among the mucky dark scenes that recall Justice League or BvS.
It’s fun as Venom slowly learns to love Brock, and the planet the other thousand symbiotes that the Life Corporation found in a meteor (did I mention that?) want to consume. Venom joins Brock to fight Riot as he is a “loser” just as he tells Brock he is earlier.
That’s the good stuff, with Tom Hardy really delivering on the comedy… not sure it was meant to be this funny… but these 30 minutes or so mostly work. Still, not up to snuff with a modern day Marvel film. Everyone else is pretty horrid, from Michele Williams to Jenny Slate and even Riz Ahmed, who tries real hard, but is playing one of the worst written villains in comic book film history.
The 3Rd Act – Please… Kill… Me – A DCEU Sized Mess
Ugh. Then things get serious and boring again. And just as cheesy as Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom and The Predator, both of which I gave a higher score than Venom! F**k, I liked The Mummy more than Venom! But let’s continue…
Brock losses the suit at some point. Not important enough to get into. To get back to Eddie, the suit first bonds with a dog, then covers Anne (she’s she-Venom! Easter Egg!) who kisses Brock to give him back the suit. Worse than two Michael Fassbenders kissing in Alien: Convenant (which I also gave a higher score to), the film only gets more terrible, trust me.
The Riot suit eventually makes its way to Drake and takes him as a host, after its pointless journey we’ve been checking into for no reason. Drake wanted to cure humanity using the symbiotes because now all film villains care about the environment more than people, and Riot wants to unleash the rest the symbiotes on Earth so they can eat everyone. So, conveniently having the exact same desires anyway, the two set out to do just that.
Meanwhile, Venom, the “loser” in the symbiote group, decides it’s time to protect Earth, so Brock and the suit do just that as well. They must stop Riot climbing into a rocket that is set to launch in 5 minutes (what?) so he will not bring his symbiote armor back to Earth.
The result is a sloppy fight, that is a CGI mess one moment, and ridiculous when they both lose their suits and fight as men. As if. Using the symbiotes’ weakness, sound at a certain frequency (the film reminds you of this 20 times), Riot fails as Venom blows the rocket cooking both Riot and Drake with fire (the other only weakness cause Venom now absorbs bullets), and the Venom Symbiote is seemingly killed while saving Eddie.
But, guess what? It’s not dead, as revealed in an odd scene between Brock and Anne, who is still his ex. Wow. We get a sequel! It is only now, at the tail end of the film, that Venom agrees only to kill bad guys, as seen in the trailer. I guess the world DOES need more superheroes.
I’ll discuss the post-credits scenes in a post later today, which are the best scenes in the film… but that’s it. That’s the f**king “Venom” movie Sony made.
It’s cheesy as s**t, the villain and his plot are stupid as s**t, and it’s tonally messed the f**k up. But, if you really want to see it, there’s 30 decent minutes in there. The rest feels like a movie that should have been made 20 years ago, that does understand Venom and realizes him beautifully, but does not understand Eddie Brock or how story works. It’s not Suicide Squad bad, but it nearly is.
All this coming from someone who will defend Spider-Man 3, any day. This. Is. MUCH. Worse.
F**K YOU SONY! Give the characters to Marvel Studios before you f**k up Carnage.