FILM REVIEW – ‘VENOM’ (2018)

Friday, October 5, 2018 marked the official theatrical release of Venom, the first film in the new Sony Marvel Universe, adjunct to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and in conjunction with Marvel Studios. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening courtesy of Sony Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.

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Venom stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, the hotshot investigative journalist recently relocated from New York City to San Francisco, CA who after conducting an aggressive, accusatory interview with Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) the CEO of bio-engineering corporation The Life Foundation about their alleged human testing as it relates to their space exploration, is quickly left out in the cold after losing both his job as a journalist, and his fiance Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) as a result. As it turns out, The Life Foundation had discovered a new alien life-form – amorphous extraterrestrial symbiotes known as the Klyntar. These aliens bond with other lifeforms in a symbiosis that strengthens and sustains both the symbiote and the host in a mutually beneficial way, provided the host is a match for the alien symbiote. As you’d probably guess if you’ve ever picked up any number of certain comic books, Eddie Brock inadvertently becomes the host to one of these such creatures, known as Venom.

As a result of the bonding, Eddie and Venom forge a co-dependency, each benefiting the other… with the bonded symbiosis of Venom possessing various superhuman abilities. Meanwhile, it appears that of the specimens brought back to Earth, Venom wasn’t the only one who survived, as Riot – another far more sinister Klyntar has found a host of his own, and seeks to destroy the planet and everyone on it. And as you probably also guessed, it’s now up to Venom to take out Bigger Venom… excuse me, I mean Riot… to save humanity just as soon as they can learn to properly co-exist and quell Venom’s own inherit evil.

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Let me clarify that as a long-time fan of Venom in the comics over the years, this movie is absolutely NOT for Venom fans. Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis is hardly the same as you’ve read in the comics, and indeed has absolutely nothing to do with Spider-Man at all, as despite everything we know about the character in other mediums, to say nothing of the new partnership between Sony and Marvel, the friendly neighborhood web-slinger is nowhere to be found. This could possibly be due to the events in Avengers: Infinity War, but that of course wouldn’t explain the very rapid-fire progression of Venom going directly to Eddie Brock, and never once coming into contact with Peter Parker. In fact, I explained what the alien symbiotes were earlier in this very review but now that I think of it, I’m not sure their name The Klyntar was ever once mentioned in this film. All of the struggles between the sinister, world-eating alien known as Venom, and his human host Eddie Brock are very quickly rushed through, and riddled with tons of Deadpool-esque humor and snarky internal banter in place of all of that. We’re bacially fast-forwarded through most of the character’s progression straight into the Venom: Lethal Protector arc wherein Venom becomes less of a super-villain, and more of a vigilante crime-fighter. I understand why this was done for the purposes of this movie… but I do very much wish it would’ve been done differently, or at least executed better, rather than just rushed through.

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While Hardy did a pretty good job in his dual role, all things considered, there were a lot of problems to get through both in the overall story, and the script itself. All of the snarky, irreverent humor that worked so well with Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy, still worked with Venom, to a degree, but didn’t really fit so well into the character or the story, and honestly just took away from everything else, and just kind of came off as a cheap attempt to cash in something that worked with other titles – exactly what many fans were afraid of happening after the success of the two aforementioned properties. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny a lot of the time, it was entertaining throughout, and if you went into this not knowing a single thing about (or could at least detach yourself from) the source material, then the many, many flaws probably wouldn’t bother you.

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As a matter of fact, when I first watched this, I went in with zero expectations, had fun with the movie, and ultimately enjoyed my viewing experience – you know, apart from a few cringey moments of bad production, one really stupid and pointless post-credits scene (and I mean the second one – the first one was really cool apart from a laughably bad wig), and this unshakable feeling that I wasn’t going to like this upon thinking about it more for the purposes of this review. Unfortunately, I was right, and the more I thought about it, the more problems I realized I had with the whole thing. So again, go into this one with zero expectations, and you at least won’t be disappointed when you initially watch it. Or just wait for it to come out on your preferred streaming service, and save yourself the theater prices.

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The Bottom Line:
Overall, Venom just really isn’t very good, all things considered. It’s fun, it’s funny a lot of the time, and it’s got more than enough action to keep your attention. But these things really only apply if you look at this as a standalone sci-fi/action/comedy, not a Venom movie, and certainly not a Marvel movie in the extended Spider-Man saga. It rushes through too much, jumps around too much, and is really just a big disjointed, over-hyped mess. Mind you, it is a FUN MESS, but it’s still a mess. Go see it, and enjoy yourself… just don’t think about it too much, or really, at all. – 5.0/10

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-Dave Harlequin
Editor: Nerd Nation Magazine
@NerdNationPress

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