Monday, November 5, 2018

Venom (a movie review post)

Where do I even start with this? I mean, a Venom movie without Spider-Man? How do you even? Just the idea sounds insane. And with Tom Hardy... I'm sure I've mentioned how not a fan of Tom Hardy I am.

But it's Venom, so I went to see it. Which is not to say that I'm some huge Venom fan, at least not of what he grew into, but, back when he was first introduced, he was a pretty cool and innovative character.

So let's start there, at the beginning. Which is to say that Venom has a very... problematic... origin.
An origin that I'm not going to get into, right now, because it has nothing to do with the movie. I only bring it up because when Venom was first introduced as a character outside of the comics (back in one of the animated Spider-Man shows from the 90s), they needed a non-Secret Wars origin for the symbiote, so they chose to have it be from outer space. Which you can't really argue, anyway, because when the "suit" was first introduced, no one knew it where it came from other than that it was on the Beyonder's war planet.

All of that to say that the origin in the movie is derived less from the comic books and more from a previously established pop culture origin story that more people are probably familiar with than the number of people who know that actual origin of the alien symbiote. That part of it, I can give a pass.

I'm less comfortable with the part of it where Venom is part of an alien invasion force. That coupled with the human names for the symbiotes (oh, yes, there are more than one!) gave that aspect of the movie a bit of a Transformers feel.

And I miss the spider on Venom. That feels to me as if it is part of the character and leaving it off (because in this origin without the involvement of Spider-Man, why would there be a spider?) takes away somewhat from the character.

Overall, though, they did a fine and decent job with coming up with an origin for the character, and I do hope Venom and Spider-Man end up in a movie together... Well, this Venom and the current Spider-Man under Marvel's control, because I think that would turn out to be... great? Yeah, probably great.

Which brings me to Tom Hardy. He was surprisingly good. They made the Eddie Brock character a bit more... I don't know. In the comics, Brock was a loser. Just a loser. A wannabe. He had a beef with Parker because Parker wouldn't work with him, which was because Brock was a no-talent loser. This iteration of Brock starts him out at the top, not just competent but exceptional, then they bring him down and make him a loser. Washed up. Hardy played both ends of that spectrum believably, so I have to give him kudos for that. And he pulled off playing against a disembodied voice, so I have to give him credit for that, too. Maybe Hardy just needs to quit working with Nolan, because Nolan seems intent on making Hardy into nothing more than a mumbling pair of lips.

Then there's Michelle Williams who is a bowl of boiled noodles. Just the noodles with nothing on them. Not even butter. I suppose there are some people out there who like plain noodles, but they don't taste like much and have no flavor or character. Neither does Williams. She's good at delivering her lines, but there's nothing much to her. She's always the same, and she felt more like a placeholder here than anything else.

It was, however, nice to see Jenny Slate, who was so... normal in this role that I kept questioning whether it was really her.

My final analysis is that this movie is better than every single DC movie that has come out. Hands down. In fact, the DC movies don't even get close. No, it's not as good as the Marvel Studios movies, though I'd say it holds its own against Fox's X-Men films, but the only DC movie that's even on the same playing field is Wonder Woman. So, yeah, I'd go see another Venom movie -- and they teased one in the clip in the credits -- though it's unclear whether it will get a second one since it seems to be under performing a bit. Well, you know, you leave out Spider-Man and it loses a lot of its draw. Tom Hardy isn't a big enough name to get people into the theaters on his own, and most people's only experience with Venom is Spider-Man 3.

All of which is to say that you're not going to be missing out if you don't watch this. Unfortunately. It's a pretty standard superhero kind of movie even if this particular "hero" does have a taste for eating brains. But it doesn't tie into anything else, not at the moment, anyway. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens with Sony's non-Spider-Man Spiderverse to know if this is a critical movie or not.


  1. I was very impressed with Hardy. He made the film. It's certainly not better than Wonder Woman or the Batman movies though.

  2. If you want a good Venom, you have to go for the animated series versions, no doubt.