Venom Defies Expectations and Critics

Tom Hard sells the film as a romance

Gavin Zeamer, Entertainment Editor

Venom isn’t a good superhero movie. Everything about it, on paper, makes the movie feel destined to fail.  The change to PG-13 late in pre-production, the re-shoots, odd trailers, and less than stellar CGI. And yet while seeing the film in theaters, I had the time of my life, not watching a superhero movie, but a romantic comedy. Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock seems to just be having so much fun playing a depressed, lonely loser ex-reporter possessed by a monster made of black ooze, he completely sells the audience on everything he does on-screen. Unlike the restrictive role of Bane in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, he’s clearly having the time of his life, putting his all toward the role. In a film with lackluster performances by everyone else across the board, it’s good that Eddie Brock gets easily the most screen time and gets to flex a wide variety of emotions in this superhero action rom-com.

Despite how enjoyable and surprisingly well-paced the movie is (you’re never bored during it, aside from one slightly long motorcycle chase), there aren’t really coherent character arcs. Eddie Brock starts off the film rude, brash, and not caring how his actions affect others. And he ends the film in the exact same state. The major inciting action in the film that causes Eddie to lose his job and his girlfriend is never even apologized for. There are scenes where Eddie stalks his ex, and it’s just portrayed as sad, and yet she keeps talking to him, protecting him, caring more for Eddie over her new, sane boyfriend, even when it seems like Eddie suffers a mental break.

One of the main villains of the film, Carlton Drake, played by Ritz Ahmed, seems to be a sort of Elon Musk, whose main goal is to use the Venom symbiotes as a type of spacesuit, is cartoonishly evil, and the actors flawed performance really shows through the cracks in his character. There’s a specific scene where a group of kindergartners is being shown through the research lab, and the children all shush a girl who tries to ask a question, and Drake has a monologue about how you shouldn’t stop people from asking questions, and then he leaves without answering her question. It’s hilarious.

But the true star of the film is Venom, who is voiced by Tom Hardy. The first thirty minutes of the film feel like you’re just waiting for this black gooey monster to show up, and when he does, he steals the show. Venom is introduced in an amazing scene of Eddie Brock eating frozen tater tots as the symbiote infects his body. Venom is constantly cracking consistently funny jokes (Eddie saying “thank you” after his life is saved, and Venom saying in this gravely, alien voice “you’re welcome”), and provides most of the intentional humor in the movie. Another aspect of Venom, oddly played completely straight, is his romantic fascination with Eddie Brock. Without spoiling the film too much, Eddie convinces Venom that humanity shouldn’t be destroyed, and the parasite grows close to Eddie, culminating in an actual kiss between Eddie Brock and Venom at the climax of the film.

Venom is a film with an identity crisis, it was advertised as a Deadpool-like gritty, bloody superhero film with off-color jokes, while the directors intention seems to be a DC Cinematic Universe style of a dark, bleak world, while Tom Hardy’s enthusiastic acting and voice-work makes it come off as incredibly lighthearted, among all the dark things happening. It’s as if a building was collapsing around Venom, and it ended up standing in the rubble, completely unharmed. It’s something that feels impossible to replicate, which doesn’t bode well for the various sequels of Venom already planned by the studio. I feel it’s wrong to give films a number, but despite the various things the film does badly (most of the first and the end of the third act), tone problems, and why Venom even pretends to be interested in bringing Eddie and his girlfriend together, this movie succeeds on an incredibly tight, action filled romantic comedy, focusing on the relationship between a man and the horrific, slimy alien parasite connected to him at the heart, both physically, and spiritually. 9/10.