‘Venom’ disappoints, but it’s not entirely poison

Released on Oct. 5, Marvel comics’ ‘Venom’ features Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams dealing with alien control.

This review contains spoilers for the movie “Venom.”

“Venom” gives me conflicted feelings. What do I say to a movie that left me bored and annoyed for the entire first half? Maybe I say at least it was better than “Spiderman 3,” the movie in which Venom made his cinematic debut. Or maybe I just accept it as a fun action romp that just takes way too long to get its bearings.

“Venom” stars Tom Hardy as lead Eddie Brock, a journalist who has just a tad too much integrity. The opening act serves as Brock’s fall from grace in which he seems to never recover. Brock disobeys his boss, who asks for just a simple interview, then betrays his lawyer fiancée by snooping through her private emails of a lawsuit against the CEO he’s set to speak with. He switches mid-interview to an interrogation of the CEO of Life Foundation, Carlton Drake, a character very similar to Elon Musk portrayed by Riz Ahmed. When I say Elon Musk, I mean I would be half convinced they based the entire character off of him if it wasn’t based on a comic: Drake is pioneering living in space and his own independent space travel and is the CEO of his own company at a young age. Brock’s interrogation proves to do absolutely nothing, as the interview doesn’t get out, but it does serve to destroy Brock’s life completely.

Brock gets fired for disobeying his boss and his fiancée dumps him because she got fired as well. I understand people do make stupid mistakes, but I found myself dwelling on Brock blowing up on this guy in a way that would lead to absolutely no benefit to him and just asking why. A question I fear I will never know the answer to.

The rest of the first half struggles by, featuring a disappointing performance by Jenny Slate. Not disappointing because of her, but disappointing in that she does absolutely nothing and is wasted as a talented actress in a throwaway role. It finally picks up when Brock and Venom achieve symbiosis — something that Drake has been trying to do throughout the movie with his collection of goo aliens, or symbiotes, that he stole from space. Brock is then overrun with random thoughts from a deep, dark voice that tells him what to do and when it’s hungry. We learn this is Venom through his startling appearance by shooting black goo from Brock’s body at enemies. He occasionally also takes it all over, transforming his entire form into the creature of Venom. Brock is then chased by Drake’s men for the rest of the film so they can do tests on him, because aliens are cool and interesting or something.

Venom provides much-needed comic relief. Especially when a particularly action-packed, stressful moment turns into the funniest of the film as Brock refuses to jump out of a window at Venom’s request and is then called a ‘pussy’ as he calls for the elevator. These bits are made even more the better when, surprisingly, I learned that Venom was also voice acted by Hardy and then played into his ears during scenes. Just as Brock hears him throughout the film, only in his head.

Eventually, Brock and Venom become friends and Brock’s accepts Venom’s desire to occasionally eat people. From this point on, the film turns from messy, confusing snooze to fun romp with occasional writing blunders.

With all the anxiety leading up to this movie after a not-so-impressive trailer, I’m glad to see it not be entirely irredeemable. It helps that it’s carried by impressive performances by leads Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams and is assisted by Ahmed, who manages to make a poorly written character into something palatable.

The film ends with a scene teasing a sequel featuring Woody Harrelson as Carnage, a common villain of Venom in the comics. With how entertaining the film ended, I feel like a Carnage film might even be great, especially with Harrelson at the head. It might even make all of “Venom” worth it.

“Venom” wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it might be, either. It teeters in the middle as an okay, mediocre film, which is a bit of a slight to the company of Marvel it draws from that’s been producing excellent movies as of late. It’s at least better than can be said for DC’s attempts at films over the past couple years, but that’s a whole other thing I don’t need to get into. If you don’t mind a film that’s just alright, “Venom” is your October pick.

Edited by Siena DeBolt | sdebolt@themaneater.com

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