The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Venom

 

Okay loyal reader, up until a couple of days ago I would have been sitting here saying John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is a 2019 film in which Keanu Reeves’ John Wick returns once more...however, I cannot do that. The reason I cannot do that is because I watched Venom the other day and as soon as I finished watching it, I knew that I could not put off reviewing it. So Mr Wick’s latest outing will have to wait until next week as I talk about 2019’s Venom in which Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock/Venom with Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake

 

 

There are some films in which you hear the concept and you immediately think to yourself that such a concept either is guaranteed to be gold or is so stupid that you cannot honestly believe that anyone with a brain would be stupid enough to do it. A few years ago the idea of a cinematic universe comprising of numerous characters that usually belong in comic books would be doomed to failure and yet we live in a time when the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still going strong a decade after starting. Bringing Venom to the big screen was previously attempted in Spider-Man 3 which ended up being Toby Maguire’s last outing as the web-slinger, and sadly Topher Grace was not what most fans had in mind when they thought of Venom. However, surely having the man who brought Bane to life in The Dark Knight Rises, the man that broke the Batman, would be a guaranteed success right?

 

Right????

 

Things start off with a shuttle crashing on Earth after discovering evidence of life-forms on a comet. One of the four samples escapes containment causing the crash. The shuttle belongs to the Life Foundation and the remaining three life-forms are recovered but the forth is able to escape after somehow joining first with one of the astronauts, then a paramedic. Meanwhile journalist Eddie Brock is investigating the rumours that the Life Foundation is experimenting on humans illegally, specifically, snatching the homeless off the streets to use in their testing. Brock’s fiancée, Anne Weying, is an attorney gathering evidence against the Life Foundation and its CEO Carlton Drake. Brock is set to interview Drake, and Eddie’s boss warns him not to do anything stupid as Drake is a very powerful man that could destroy all of their careers with a phone call. After accessing Anne’s laptop to find the evidence he needs, Brock challenges Drake with all of the information in Anne’s files. Drake calls off the interview and Brock’s boss fires him. Anne is also fired. She knows that Eddie accessed her laptop so feeling betrayed and hurt, she decides to end their relationship.

 

Six months later...

 

Brock basically is at rock bottom, he’s unemployed, washed up and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Anne has moved on with her life and is dating a doctor. The Life Foundation has been experimenting with the life forms they recovered and has learned that they are symbiotes that cannot survive in Earth’s atmosphere without a host. Unfortunately every person they bring in for the symbiote to join with ends up dead. Drake is convinced that the only way humans are ever going to be able to explore the galaxy is through symbiosis, because if the symbiotes can join with a host to survive Earth’s atmosphere, then maybe a human joined with one of them could survive in other atmospheres which would otherwise be fatal.

 

After witnessing Drake expose one homeless person after another to the symbiotes and watching them die, lead scientist Doria Skirth approaches Brock wanting him to expose the truth about what Drake is doing. Brock is initially uninterested but realises that perhaps this is his chance to reclaim what he has lost so agrees to go to the lab with her. Whilst there Brock spots a homeless woman named Maria, an acquaintance of his inside one of the containment cells, and after she begs him to let her out he shattered the cell. Maria escapes and attacks him, transferring the symbiote that was inside her into Brock, after which she dies. Brock flees the lab and immediate things are strange, he is able to smash through a fence and he scales a tree to escape his pursuers.

 

Later at his apartment he is disturbed when a voice starts talking to him inside his head, thinking he is going insane Brock seeks out help from Anne and gains assistance from her doctor boyfriend. As Brock becomes more unhinged the symbiote reveals itself to him, and tells Brock that its kind want to come to Earth to devour mankind, and if Brock wants to survive he needs to co-operate.

 

As Drake and his mercenaries close in, Brock and the symbiote, known as Venom, must work together to stay alive whilst the forth symbiote closes in on them determined to bring the rest of its kind to Earth no matter what...

 

Now before I go on it is important to have some context regarding who and what Venom actually is. Now my information mainly comes from Spiderman The Animated Series with lesser sources including the game Spider-Man Web of Shadows, Spider-Man 3 and The Spectacular Spider-Man.  Now I don’t read comics as you know so how accurate the character I know of is to its comic counterpart I have no idea, but, as far as I understand things Spider-Man was once bonded with the alien symbiote, which enhanced all of his spider powers, increasing his strength, and agility. The power of the symbiote felt good but it started corrupting Peter Parker’s nature and after almost killing someone Parker realises that he needs to get rid of the symbiote. Which he is able to do. Now, there is a fellow journalist working at the Daily Bugle named Eddie Brock who is continually humiliated by Spider-Man. In one such incident when Brock tries to expose Dr Connors as the Lizard, Spider-Man stops him and by the time Brock is able to return with a film crew Dr Connors is back to normal. Over time his reputation is continually damaged and eventually he tries to frame Spider-Man but is exposed to be a fraud by Parker, who was under the influence of the symbiote at a time. Brock is fired from his job and evicted from his apartment. When Parker rejects the symbiote it finds Eddie Brock, who’s anger and rage at both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, matches the symbiote’s own. After the two bond, they become determined to poison everything about Peter Parker’s life and tear down everything that he cares about. The two become the monster Venom which possess all of Spider-Man’s powers and will not set off the Web-Head’s spider sense.

 

In later seasons of The Animated Series Brock is able to kind-of get over his hatred of Spider-Man and the two even work together to thwart a greater evil. I vaguely remember reading that in the comics eventually Brock becomes a kind-of anti-hero or an Anti-Venom or something like that...[dismissive wave]...but I don’t really know

 

Now I think you’ll agree that Spider-Man is pretty vital to the creation of Venom, as Venom wouldn’t exist without the hatred and rage that Brock feels for both Peter Parker and Spider-Man matching the symbiote’s fury at being rejected...soooooo...can someone explain to me how you can possible have a Venom film which DOESN’T feature Spider-Man???????

 

In this version of the character the symbiote calls itself Venom, and it is not a creation caused by Brock’s rage and pain. It also refers to Brock as being a loser, but that on its world, it is also a bit of a loser...

 

 

So Venom is a loser where he’s from???

 

This badass alien symbiote that turns Eddie Brock into a powerhouse that has nearly killed Spider-Man over and over is a loser??

 

Are you joking????

 

Do I really need to go on???

 

The symbiote calls itself a bit of a loser, so how can the film possibly be anything other than garbage???

 

This might be the part where I tell you that actually it kind-of works and takes the character in a new direction or something, but no, no it doesn’t. Venom is a soldier or maybe a slave that is in the service if the forth symbiote named Riot, not Carnage, another badass symbiote from The Animated Series and comics, but Riot. This symbiote has spent six months pissing about wandering around in Malaysia before it finally makes its way to San Francisco where it bonds with Drake. It is nice and convenient that the dozens of homeless that they feed to these symbiotes and not compatible but Drake, Brock, a rabbit, a dog and Anne all are capable of bonding without any ill effects. I don’t recall there being any issues in the media I have seen about the symbiotes being unable to join with human hosts, so why was that idea introduced here???

 

You may have noticed I said San Francisco, because yep we’re not in New York, you know the place SPIDER-MAN lives, no we’re somewhere else.

 

 

Remember when I said that Venom tells Brock that his kind are going to come to Earth and eat everyone??...rhetorical question because if you’re attention is that short then you probably spend most of your time being distracted by shiny objects. Anyway, during the course of the film, right the hell out of nowhere, Venom decides that he likes Earth and that Riot needs to be stopped before bringing others to Earth. I think this relates back to the whole Venom is a loser on his own world but can be a badass on this one??

 

It’s just so weak and a pitiful way of making Venom into the hero.

 

Another issue is that the film is also painfully slow with both Abbie and I pretty bored for the most part. To give you some context on my level of boredom, last week she made me watch the Eurovision Song Contest, a gruelling four hours of tedium, that made waiting for my people to answer the phone for over thirty years looked packed with excitement. But, I can truthfully say, that four hours drifted past like a soothing massage compared to the raking over glass agony of sitting through the hour and forty minutes of Venom.

 

It wasn’t all bad though

 

The idea of linking with alien life forms to become stronger is closer to the truth than you humans realise. Take it from me, the human body is far too fragile to survive in space, if I ever got bored and gave you humans interstellar technology, the first time you fire the engines up, you’re internal organs would liquefy, your skeletons would disintegrate and you’re last few agonising moments would be as a gelatinous mass before it turns to dust. I understand that it is super painful, but fascinating to watch...anyway the point is that the only real way you humans will get out into the stars is through symbiosis, splicing alien molecules into your bodies or growing hybrids that consist of many different species combined together into a far stronger, faster, and superior entity, like me.

 

That idea was interesting and Drake does have a noble goal.

 

I also cannot say that I gave a shit about the fact that Drake is experimenting on the homeless, human trash littering the streets, if some millionaire wants to experiment on them to enrich all mankind then I’m not going to stop him.

 

Plus I don’t really understand why Drake is only using homeless people; I mean why doesn’t he use terminally ill people?? Personally if I was terminally ill and someone said to me that they had a cure but it was 50/50 odds that the cure would actually kill me, I’d do it anyway. I mean what would I have to lose?? I’m dead anyway so why not take that chance??

 

I understand that you humans tend to be more attached to your own kind than my people are to one another. Given time you’ll shed those infantile ways of looking at the world and perhaps you’ll even develop space travel...[chuckle]...sorry couldn’t keep a straight face as I write that.

 

I will say that the way Venom looks on screen is perfect, I mean absolutely spot on with the voice matching perfectly. But this just makes it more of a tragedy that we don’t have this towering monster standing before the rather puny looking Spider-Man, instead he is the one looking puny when standing before Riot. Venom also has more of a personality having a dark sense of humour and encouraging Brock to let him eat people, whilst also suggesting that Brock apologise for betraying Anne’s trust. It reminded me of The Darkness which is also a dark entity that possesses but seeks to control its host Jackie Estacado, which also has a badass voice.

 

The special effects are also great and Venom has never looked more like a real monstrous creature rather than someone in a suit.

 

Every moment that Venom is on screen is awesome; unfortunately he is basically on screen for like 10 minutes. The rest of the time we’re watching Brock, and I will admit that Hardy does a reasonable job of convincing us that his body is acting without his conscious control when Venom takes over to defend them from Drake’s mercenaries. Sadly there is so little of Venom on screen that it really makes you wonder why the film is called “Venom” when the titular character himself is barely in it. It’d be like making a 007 film in which Bond cameos and then buggers off for the rest of the movie.

 

I’m sure you’re getting the impression that I did not care for this film which is good because that is exactly what I was going for. Basically Venom is shit. It has taken a badass character and turned him into loser that wants to stay on Earth because the other symbiotes beat him up and take his lunch money. It also has no connection with Spider-Man, so we don’t get to see Venom swinging through the city or going toe-to-toe with one of the best superheroes out there.

 

I have read that apparently Sony are making a Sony Marvel Universe which is kind-of linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man potentially appearing in later films but I hope to god that like Universal’s Dark Universe which began and ended with the woeful Mummy this is the beginning and end of the SMU.

 

If Venom is going to be done right then put him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, have him bond with Spider-Man, be rejected and then join Eddie Brock. He and the other symbiotes that he creates have the potential to be really good enemies in future MCU instalments, but for Venom to exist he must have first tried to bond with Spider-Man, absorb his abilities, and then find Brock. Hell I wouldn’t even object if Tom Hardy reprised the role of Brock in that film, but as things stand this film fails on pretty much every front.

 

I wanted to like this film, I really did. I wanted it to succeed even though it didn’t have Spider-Man in it, and it had the potential to do that. The symbiotes could have bonded with people, they could have absorbed traits of animals that they bonded with, Drake’s experimentations on them might have given them new and powerful abilities...sadly none of this would come to pass. The symbiotes could have been territorial and we could have had a power struggle between the symbiotes for control of Earth. There was so much potential and you know me, I hate wasted potential. My Thumb is unquestioningly down because with the exception of the special effects nothing else works, Venom is a self-proclaimed loser, and that perfectly summarises this film. He’s a loser and this film is a loser.

 

 

4/10 – If you’re going to do a Venom film then for Christ sake give us a Venom film. As it was we got this pile of garbage, watch the trailer and you’ve pretty much seen all of the scenes in which Venom appears. Honestly if you want a more faithful representation of the character you’re better off watching Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3

 

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© Chris Sharman