"Venom" Review (Non-Spoiler)
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
"Venom", as so wonderfully stated by several reviewers from Letterboxd and beyond, seems to be a relic of the early 2000s superhero era that has only just now been found. A film with a paper-thin plot, cheesy effects, even cheesier writing, and the overall stench of a boardroom product. This is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. But, that being said, I kinda like it in my own weird way. I can see this down the line becoming a sort of bad movie cult classic, a fate I think also belongs to something like Suicide Squad. An incompetent mess that at times you might actually enjoy, but you're mainly there to point at the screen and laugh in its face. Better than nothing, right?
Tom Hardy is gold. But, less Oscar gold and more like Razzie gold. Never before have I seen a lead performance from a modern blockbuster that immediately just seems so ripe for the picking. We could talk about his truly awful accent. Or his bizarre mannerisms. His complete lack of chemistry with Michelle Williams' character. The fact that his twitchy personality just doesn't fit that of a journalist. Everything about the performance is off in such an out there way that I found myself silently admiring the train wreck. That being said, I do enjoy his moments that he shares with Venom himself. They have enough chemistry to make their interactions entertaining, even if almost all of the moments of levity just do not work. (I will mention at the end of this review the four distinct moments that did get a chuckle out of me.) Besides Tom as Eddie and Venom, none of the other characters have anything going for them. Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate have jack for material, Williams having almost no reason to be in the film at all, and Slate just being around as a plot device and delivery of some needed exposition. I would also say Riz Ahmed is miscast in the role of "Stereotypical Big Wig Man That Soon Looks Like Evil Version of Protagonist." But, I think it's less that and again more just a lack of sustainable material to work with. He makes Corey Stoll's character in Ant-Man look complex.
Back to those visual effects. A mixed bag, to say the least. Nothing here looks especially fantastic, and there are numerous instances of visual hiccups. This included unnecessary quick cuts, some shots appearing out of focus, and an overall instant age on the special effects. Not necessarily early 2000s material, but immediately dated stuff nevertheless. The best shots of the movie were all in the trailers, put simply. But, that being said, the action isn't terrible. It's not really even bad. It's fine. It's passable. The car chase is kinda cool. (Random thing, but the piece from the film's score that played over this scene I kinda liked. Maybe it's the electric guitar.) There's a fight between Venom and some cops that had an interesting visual appeal to it, with fog covering the whole battleground. The climactic fight between Venom and Riot was serviceable, if lacking in a true dramatic punch. (It even includes those useless fake-outs that just should stop being in third act fights.) There are worse looking superhero films out there, but little to nothing is going to wow you in terms of aesthetics.
Here's the oddest thing. As I think about Venom more, the more I enjoy it. It's bad. Technically the worst film that I've seen so far this year. That being said, I would still watch this over a few of the other flicks I've seen from 2018. I can't willingly give it any higher than I'm going to give it for now, but maybe I'll consider giving it a like down the line. (EDIT: Bitch, I actually did it. The film’s been on my mind for too long and too frequently for me to not do it.) I have no intention to see this again in the theater, but I will likely watch it again when it's on DVD, and you can bet it gave me enough that I would be more than willing to sit my happy little ass down in a theater seat for a sequel. The best phrase to use with Venom is "proceed with caution." Lower your expectations. Like, lower them a lot. Go in for a definite bad movie, but a possible good time. A turd in the wind, but a turd in the wind that smells nice at times and makes you smile here and there.
(Speaking of such, here are the four moments in the film that actually gave me a laugh. I'll keep them vague for the sake of spoilers, but you'll know exactly what I'm talking about if you've seen the movie. First, when Eddie gets a taste for lobster. Second, Venom's choice of words when Eddie rides an elevator. Third, when a freaky french kiss occurs. Finally, and most importantly, the mid-credits scene's final line. This one especially for a key reason. In a conversation with good friends about the movie several weeks back, we practically guessed this line. But, I guess we were making jokes. The line was meant to be a joke. But it's completely serious here. God help us all, I died in the theater. As in I died laughing, and I died inside. Hey, that and the after-credits sequence which is totally worth the wait, left me walking out of the theater happy. That's something.) I'm going to give "Venom" a 4 out of 10.