Let’s get one thing straight, Venom isn’t a bad movie. In fact, in parts, it’s entertaining.
This statement alone is sufficient to stir up some hatred among the critic community, but I don’t care. The first time I came across Venom as a Marvel character was in the ’90s Spider-Man animated series. I recall enjoying everything about the character, despite his initial evil motives. I still have the crude drawings I did in many of my sketchbooks featuring Venom, so it’s definitely worth noting that my initial statement doesn’t come from a lack of knowledge or as a pleb joining in with the masses as they jump on the bandwagon of hate for the 2018 film.
Let’s not forget that Spider-Man 3 happened, which still pains me to this day.
I, like many others I assume, spent the last two days combing through some harsh and scary reviews of the film, saddened by the prospect of what I was about to watch being unveiled when it came time for the pre-screening, knowing full well I’m supposed to follow it up with a review of my own. And here I am, bewildered at the level of hate Venom has received. I can honestly say, I was surprised at the end product. It’s not polished, it’s not great, and there are loads of generic tropes scattered throughout the film. But it’s not bad either. My only view into the film before today has been the images posted of alien Symbiote on ads and billboards, due to my zero-trailer policy for blockbuster films, and then this week, the reviews – mostly a few titles and summaries, and only a limited amount full reviews.
Two weeks ago I managed to see the new (not quite rebooted) Predator film. It too, wasn’t half bad, with a lot of edge-of-your-seat action, most of which were R-rated. I bring this up because the film starts as with many other alien-related films with a crash landing of a spaceship onto earth in some remote place on earth, with the contents of some rare or unknown cargo gone missing. Venom starts off in almost this exact manner, which left me with a great sense of unease as to how generic the film would be, and with the negative thoughts about the review still fresh in my memory, dreaded what was to come.
The first act of the film spends a lot of time establishing the lead characters, both the hero or anti-hero in this case, as well as some form of a villain. The villain wasn’t very appealing and could be substituted with any other superhero film’s villain without too much hassle or change in the overall plot and storyline. This latter point is something also quite flat, and doesn’t need much mental capacity to work out what’s happening and about to happen. And if you’re remotely clued up about Venom, even just in the slightest, you’ll also understand his motivation. That said, the film cuts out what I feel is a huge chunk of build up to this motivation, and is rushed upon us in the third act as if we’re all willing to accept a change of heart at a drop of a hat.
So far, I haven’t painted a very rosy picture of the film, it’s plot or characters, but with zero expectations going into the film, it can only go up from there. Tom Hardy plays the role of Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who works undercover to expose large corporations’ ill-doings. After a series of bad decision-making, he ends up losing quite a lot personally in the space of a day or two. Hardy seems to have enjoyed playing the role, almost as if he was simply mimicking his day to day life or bizarre and weird traits. And I loved it.
The level of anguish and oddities he presents create the awkwardness of the character, but which adds to the charm and the comedic undertones that stem from the weirdness. I’ve read a few comments and reviews about how Brock speaking to himself was off-putting or challenging to watch, but that’s part of the struggle between Brock and Venom as they morph into a sustainable relationship between symbiote and human host. Heck, it’s that way too in the comics. Spider-Man, too, is guilty of the same, which also has its origins in the comics and animated representations. So why is it so out of place here?
Last week I had the ‘privilege’ of watching the screening for the third instalment of Johnny English, something I watched while cringing for almost the entire film. While I personally had no love for the film, the audience was left in stitches for almost every slapstick moment. This lead me to the conclusion that the film may actually do well in the South African cinemas, despite my protests. Venom may also fall within the same category.
This time, however, I enjoyed the film, and evidently, almost everyone else in the theatre did too, judging by their reactions and laughter. Again, I say, Venom isn’t a great film, but it isn’t half bad either and, definitely, something that a lot of viewers could actually enjoy if they gave it a chance. I would welcome a second film and have no issues with seeing the first film again.
Catch Venom at the IMAX starting today.
Venom is by no means on par with 2018's other blockbusters that include the likes of Black Panther and Avengers Infinity War, but if you give it a chance, you may actually enjoy the film, as I did.