The critic reviews haven’t been nice to Venom…
And honestly, it made me second guess seeing the film in theaters on opening night. As I sat down, I quickly lowered my expectations, after all, there had to be some truth behind what they were saying, right?
After 2 hours, I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised and almost dumb-founded by the fact the critics gave it such a low score.
Was the movie perfect? Not quite.
Will it win any awards? Probably not.
But it was a thrilling ride that was a great way to spend 2+ hours.
So what’s it all about? — This should really not need a warning, but SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Eddie Brock is an investigative journalist whose life is “ruined” for trying to uncover some shady dealings at a mega-corporation. While trying to bring down said shady corporation, he comes into contact with the, uncovering devious plans for the corporation.
So let’s start with what the critics got right.
The first act of the movie had horrible pacing, and at some moments was outright boring. I understand that they have to carefully setup the background story for Eddie Brock and the world he lives in, but it took far too long to introduce Venom. And that wait alone is definitely what is going to make or break the movie for some people.
Not everyone is a comic book nerd, so I don’t think it’s fair to hold this against the movie. Not everyone knows how he gets his powers, so setting up this part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how Eddie Brock gets to where he needs to be is necessary, despite the movies shortcoming with telling the tale here.
One other thing I can agree upon with the critics is the way they did a ‘bait and switch’ with the bad guys. The entire movie we are force fed this notion that Carlton Drake, big business tycoon, is the big baddie of the movie. We believe that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to meet his goals. But during the third act, we get introduced to the real villain, Riot.
According to Venom, Riot is the Alpha Symbiote that plans to bring an invasion force of Symbiotes to Earth so they can take over… And that’s all we really know about him, to be honest. Riot is super strong and has more abilities than Venom, but all around it felt like it was a weak “Tada” reveal for the movie and really made things lackluster and anticlimactic. We know so little about Riot that it really makes it hard to understand the villain and his motivations. Overall, he felt generic. And outside of the fact he was a Symbiote, we could have easily replaced him with Joe Schmoe and called it a day.
What the critics got wrong.
Many of the critics felt like the movie needed Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to succeed. And in fact, many of them rated the movie poorly based on the absence of Spider-Man altogether. What we need to remember is that Venom has his own origin story, and has his own comic book line without Spider-Man. Saying that this movie needed Spider-Man is like saying every Venom comic without Spider-Man sucked. It’s saying that ‘Venom, by himself, isn’t interesting enough to be a major character’. And that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, just right out the gate Venom is already an awesome specimen as he is basically an alien parasite who can give it’s host amazing powers and abilities.
Whether it’s Flash Thompson or Eddie Brock in the suit, I truly believe that Venom is one of the few people in Spider-Man’s rogue gallery that can hold his own. Venom and Kingpin (Fisk) are the only two characters that are fully fleshed out with enough personality to carry their own movie. Yet, time and time again we often see these characters operate from within the shadows with little time in the spotlight, if any. For Kingpin at least, we’re excited to see more of Fisk and his great return as Daredevil’s adversary… But that’s for another article.
Another common theme in the negative critic reviews is that they strongly believe it should have had an “R-Rating” and it was a missed opportunity to be the next “Deadpool”. Venom was good enough on its own that a little more blood, gore, violence or cursing wouldn’t have added any value to the movie. Sure, it may have been cool to see Venom actually bite some heads off. I’ll give them that one. But it wasn’t something that could make or break the film, overall. To provide a little more transparency, I’m not a complete fan of gore when it comes to violence, so maybe I’m a bit biased in this opinion. Regardless, the scenes all made sense for the action taking place. And adding more ‘blood and guts’ for a taboo R-Rating wasn’t what was going to save the day for these critics who seemed to be looking for something to speak negatively to.
So, what did I like?
First, let’s speak to the action. Each fight scene was perfectly choreographed and had me at the edge of my seat. I was cheering. I was laughing. And I was filled with intense excitement and suspense from the action throughout the entire film. The fight scene with the SWAT team was absolutely my favorite. You can watch a clip from the scene, along with the trailer below.
This scene was made for the big screen. It was a combination of just being an overall BAMF mixed in with the comic gold of watching Venom use a SWAT team member as a weapon to beat other SWAT team members.
The bike chase where Eddie and Venom are being gunned down by the bad guys was also phenomenal. You get to watch Eddie and Venom learn how to synergize with each other. Eddie, learns how to harness the power of Venom. And Venom gets to know his host a bit better.
I think one thing worth noting here is that the CGI was also done spectacularly. Whenever we hear of a CGI suit, most of us immediately stop and think of Green Lantern. And while initially, it looks a bit weird, Sony did a great job of pulling everything together to make this iteration of the Venom suit make sense. And it worked out great.
While some may disagree, I quite enjoyed the chemistry between Eddie and Venom. Not every joke was a hit, but the awkward power struggle actually worked out well and did a great job for building chemistry between the two and transforming them both into likable characters. Prior to the Symbiote, Eddie really didn’t have much of a personality going for him. He seemed like a self-centered, self-righteous asshole trying to push that “I’m enlightened because I do yoga” agenda. Once Venom enters the picture, you really get a feeling for who they both are, and how desperately they both needed each other. At one point, Venom even admits, “I’m a loser, just like you” which almost leads one to believe that Venom is the voice of reason that makes Eddie recognize his own faults. He’s like Jiminy Cricket, except he needs a host and to bite the heads off bad guys in order to survive. All while giving sound and reasonable advice.
Overall, Venom was a solid comic book movie. It had action and adventure, tinged with comedic relief. It even had the smallest hint at a love story, which I can appreciate it not being the main focus that drove the film or the characters actions. There are a ton of Easter Eggs throughout the film for some proper fan service, and the post-credits scene left me excited for a sequel.
To wrap up this review in a neat little package for you all, don’t listen to the critics. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is currently sitting at a solid 80%+ for a reason.