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Venom Film Review: This One Stings

“Venom” might just be the most perfect time capsule from the year 2004 that I’ve ever seen. I never like to imply that I can predict whether or not a film is going to be bad, but in this instance, I feel I can declare a justified, “CALLED IT!”

Ever since it was announced that Sony Pictures was going to be moving forward with a series of Spiderman side-character spin-off movies that are only mildly related to the character of Spiderman, I, like many Marvel comics purists, was very dubious about this strange project. It’s important to know, before I give my thoughts on this newest film, that I am a very big fan of the characters Eddie Brock and Venom. Ever since the train-wreck that was 2007’s “Spiderman 3,” I’ve been anxious to see the character done the justice of being portrayed in all his glory. So, the big question: does this film provide us with the perfect version of Venom that deserves to be up on the big screen.? Well, no. No, it does not. What it does deliver is, quite frankly, one of the most unintentionally hysterical movies I have ever seen.

It is almost impossible to put into words how this film fails on every conceivable level. It fails at being faithful to the source material, it fails at being an INTENTIONAL comedy, it fails at being a straight-up action movie and it even fails to be fundamentally cohesive. Let’s start with the main problem, what I see as the biggest issue any film can have: its tone is all over the place. This film has no idea what it wants to be! Does it want to be a buddy cop movie, where one of the cops is a parasitic alien? Does it want to be a legitimate comic book movie? Does it want to be a gritty R-rated film or does it want to be serious action thriller? It decided to attempt to be all of these things, and the final result is an ultimately muddled mess.

When Venom, the title character, IS on screen, which in this film takes way too long to happen, it is pretty cool to see the character in action. This is especially true when he is compared to his previous incarnation in Spiderman 3. He is big, bad, moves fast and has a fun devilish little voice that wasn’t dissimilar from the voice I would use in my head while reading issues starring the character. But, while the character is visually identical to his source material, his disposition and tone are most definitely not.

The direction they choose to take the relationship between Venom, the alien symbiotic organism, and besmirched reporter Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) is utterly insane. In the comics Brock and Peter Parker treated the suit like an addiction that was tearing them apart from the inside. In this movie it becomes a story of two wacky roommates trying to get along! They argue, bicker, crack jokes at each other and it’s either the best or the worst thing I have ever seen. Even as I sit here, writing my review, I am processing the utter madness I just beheld. There are too many moments in this film that I could cite to showcase what a weird and bizarre adaptation this is. That is why, despite all my issues with this film., I am still going to give it a recommendation, albeit a mild one. To its credit, this film actually has a pretty decent mid-credits reveal, and if it does somehow merit a sequel, I will be be interested to see how it plays out.

Hold on, one second, don’t chuck this paper in the trash! Wait! Hear me out! It is dumb, it is loud and it is tonally confused…but it’s so bad that it’s kind of funny. Much like Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” or “Trolls 2,” it is one of those films that must be seen to be believed. Much like the character himself, I find myself split on how I view this film. Ultimately, it is worth at least a rental on Video-On- Demand upon release.

 

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