Updated: Jan 3, 2019
I want to start by saying that Sony did not completely disappoint me. As far as movies go—on a fundamentally entertaining level—it was pretty good. Now, before you go any further, please understand that this is a movie breakdown and review of the movie. So if you have not seen it . . . well, to be honest, it’s been out for about a month now. So if you haven’t seen it, shame on you, and I feel not the slightest bit of remorse for ruining it for you should you continue reading!
Since this is my first movie review, I'm going to give you a bit of background information about me. If I watch a movie that was made based off of a book or comic AFTER reading said book or comic, then I'm going into the movie ready to point out the differences between the two. If there are too many differences or they leave out what I consider important aspects of the story, the movie is deemed horrible, and I'm ready to storm out of the theater.
It’s undisputed that the books are more times than not going to be better than the movies. I also understand that everything that is in the book will not and cannot make it into the movie; there’s just not enough time. However, if you are going to take on the responsibility of creating a movie based off of a well written book, the least you can do is keep it as closely to the book as possible. Nothing irks me more than when aspects of a movie are different from the book for NO reason! The best examples I can give are Twilight and the Fifty Shades series.
Prior to going to the movies to see Twilight, I’d read the saga four times. Needless to say I knew the story inside and out. So of course I was furious when I saw the movie. There's this one part where Bella meets Edward’s “parents” for the first time. In the book, Bella is dressed in a skirt and a navy blue blouse—Stephanie Meyer went out of her way to write almost a whole page about her choice in attire only for the movie to dress Bella in jeans and a baseball jersey. FOR WHAT?? It’s like they went out of their way to be inaccurate. I know that might seem silly to you, but get enough of those miniscule changes and it’s not so outlandish anymore. And don’t even get me started on the New Moon movie . . . who wears the same outfit for six months straight?!
I’d read the Fifty Shades series three times prior to seeing the movies, and while they tried to make the movie as close to the book as possible, it wasn’t enough. Quite frankly, the movies should never have been made in the first place. They did as much as they could without making it soft porn, but that’s just it . . . the books were—essentially—soft porn. I understand that if you get passed the sex, there is a very sweet love story to be found. But the sex is such an integral part of the love story that it’s impossible to ignore, and it was poorly executed in the movies. You know the saying “Leave some to the imagination.” Well, they should have left the whole thing to the imagination and let us create the images ourselves from E.L. James’ descriptive words.
I say all that to say that I made the conscious decision not to read any comics or do any research on Venom prior to seeing the movie.
Like I said earlier, the movie overall was pretty good. The CGI and special effects were amazing . . . Marvel knows they don’t compromise on making the fantastical look real, and I appreciate them for it. The casting was good—Tom Hardy did a great job as Eddie Brock in my opinion; although to be fair, I don’t know what Brock’s personality is in the comics. Riz Ahmed also did a very good job playing the evil genius scientist with a serious God-complex, Carlton Drake. You hated him—as you should every antagonist in a movie if it was done right—but every time he stepped on his soapbox, he left you intrigued and inspired. You believed in what he was saying so much so that he sold volunteering your life better than those cute doe-eyed little girls sell girlscout cookies. The other supporting casts’ roles were too small, in my opinion, for me to say whether or not they portrayed their individual characters well. However, as a whole, the characters moved the story along nicely.
There were a few scenes where I felt like the reaction just didn’t fit the action. The first one was when Brock gave into his journalistic curiosity and opened up his fiancé’s confidential file sent to her by her firm without her knowledge or consent. After reading it and discovering the allegations that Drake used humans for his experiments that ultimately killed them were all true, he proceeded to reveal the names listed in that document during his interview with Drake. As a result, he and his fiancé were fire, and she broke off the engagement. Now here’s the thing, I believe she overreacted. I just don’t think it’s realistic for someone who agreed to spend the rest of their life with another person—through thick and thin (even if that thin was solely the result of one spouse’s poor judgment or complete lack thereof)—to call it quits because the significant other got you fired. If they cheated or were abusive in any way, sure, untie that knot and don’t look back. But a JOB?! I’d just make him do all the legwork to find me another one—a better one (benefits included). I’d also change the password on my work email. After that, I’d let it go. But I'm as single as a dollar bill. What do I know?
The second scene was the car chase right after Brock and the symbiote bonded together to make Venom. Drake’s men were chasing them from every direction in an attempt to extract the symbiote from Eddie. Every time it looked like the guys had Venom cornered, he managed create an escape. Well, Brock got a little cocky and looked back a second too long, not noticing the large SUV barreling his way. The force of the impact had him flying in the air and landing several feet away from where he’d been. He lay disfigured on the ground with I'm sure some broken ribs, both legs broken, a broken arm and fingers, and his only response was to moan. He was also able to throw in a couple of jokes/jabs at the man who’d hit him and was seconds away from killing him. Now, I've never hit by a car or anything, but I'm pretty sure the last thing I’d be doing is joking and moaning. But maybe it’s a “guy” thing. . . maybe men are different. —______— (On a completely unrelated topic: does anyone know if a man wrote screenplay?)
Lastly, we find out pretty early on that the symbiotes are killing the hosts while inhabiting their bodies. So when Brock finds out that his organs are on a fast track to failing because of the symbiote, his ex-fiancé manages to get it out of Brock, and Brock tells the symbiote they are done. That’s literally the last we hear about his failing organs. So when the symbiote finds its way back to Brock’s body, we’re left wondering if he’s going to die like the other human trials did. Venom told Brock that he could fix him, but never said how or even if he did.
Also, for a long portion of the movie, there just didn’t seem to be much of a plot; I had no idea where they were going with the story. Don’t get me wrong, I was still entertained during that time; I just didn’t know what the point was. The movie was a very nice combination of dark and funny. It was no Thor: Ragnarok funny, but the comedic flair in the banter between Venom and Brock was present even if the dialog was a bit elementary. It wasn’t until Venom told Brock that he wanted to stay on Earth and live amongst the people that you really understood what had to happen next.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think its safe to assume that even without reading the comics, Venom is known as one of Spiderman’s most iconic archenemies. Well, I went into this movie knowing that either he was already the villain or I’d find out how he became a villain since this is an origin story of sorts. The biggest thing I was interested to see was who the protagonist or “hero” of the story would be since Sony is still under contract with MCU and cannot use Spiderman in its movies.
Almost as soon as the movie began it seemed apparent that it was the latter: we’d find out how Brock became Venom, and Drake was the overwhelmingly narcissistic key to making that happen. I just assumed that Drake was a means to an end, and as soon as Drake found a way to merge Brock and the symbiote to create Venom, they’d kill Drake and start their quest of total world domination.
I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong on almost every front. First, although Drake was the reason the symbiotes were on Earth in the first place, it was actually another employee of Drake’s, Dr. Dora Skirth, who played a bigger role specifically in Brock coming in contact with the symbiote Venom. Second, while Venom’s initial plan was to steal one of Drake’s private rockets, fly it back to his home to retrieve the millions of aliens like him, and bring them back to destroy the world, and while he did spend a time taking down, killing, or eating the heads off every one of Drake’s men that came after him, Venom wasn’t the real villain. In fact, he eventually became the hero of the story. Lastly, Drake wasn’t a means to an end at all; he ended up becoming the villain.
Now let’s talk about that. Even though the movie was not predictable, the transition into what I guess can be considered the climax was horrible. One minute Venom is trying to bring the other symbiotes to Earth to destroy it, and the next he’s telling Brock they need to stop the ring-leader symbiote, Riot—a name that was never mentioned previously in the movie (by this time we’re about an hour in, mind you)—who had inhabited Drake’s body, from bringing those same symbiotes to Earth because he's decided he wants to stay. I think Sony knew that it was a poor transition and tried to compensate by having Brock point out how sudden Venom’s switch from villain to hero was. But I just didn’t feel like that was enough.
Obviously, I wasn’t expecting Venom to become a hero, so I had to do a little research after the movie to see how and why he became the villain in the comics. Apparently, Venom wasn’t really a bad guy/alien at all in the sense that he didn’t go around killing innocent people for sport or robbing banks and old ladies for cash to fund his evil schemes to take over the world. No, he just really hated Spiderman.
So after ruining his Spiderman suit fighting alongside heroes—including Thor and Hulk—in a battle against a band of villains on the planet Battleworld, Peter Parker made himself a new black and white suite from a machine on Battleworld. Unbeknownst to him, the suit was the embodiment of the symbiote later known as Venom. Overtime the symbiote developed an emotional attachment to Peter/Spiderman, but Spiderman realized he was loosing control in the suit so he had it tested by Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). When he found out that the suit was alive, Spiderman gave it to the Fantastic Four to contain, but the symbiote broke out and bonded with Spiderman again. After being rejected for the second time, the symbiote left him for good and bonded with Eddie Brock—a man who’s hate for Peter Parker now matched its own. They became Venom and made it their mission to eliminate Spiderman.
Because Sony was contractually obligated to exclude Spiderman, Eddie Brock is the symbiote’s first host in the movie without even the slightest mention of the vendetta against Spiderman/Peter Parker. I'm interested to see how Sony will incorporate the “Human Spider” when its contract with the MCU is over.
All in all, I’d give the movie a 7/10. It was funny, action packed, and had a good story. However, it didn’t have the feel of a “superhero” movie. You know what I'm talking about, right? Every Marvel movie, whether made by MCU, Fox or Sony, even DC, has this feeling or . . . unmistakable tone of a “superhero” movie that Venom just didn’t have.
But again, this is all just my opinion. I’d like to hear yours! Comment below, and let’s chat.
Also, keep a lookout for my review of Aquaman!