Photo Courtesy of IMDb
‘Venom’ lacks vision
October 15, 2018
Sitting in a packed theater on a Saturday evening, I shuffled my way to my seat with a tub of popcorn and an ICEE in hand. On my left was a child no older than 10-years old, and to my right was a father who didn’t know what a whisper was. I was in the perfect theater for the hit blockbuster of this fall: “Venom.” I should preface what I’m about to say by being completely transparent: I’m a Marvel fanboy who grew up with a special place in my heart for all things Spider-Man. Having said that, the trailers for “Venom” left me utterly unexcited for this solo outing of one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. I went in with the lowest of expectations, and I came out incredibly confused.
“Venom” is without a doubt one of the strangest cinematic–and I use that term very loosely–experiences I’ve ever had. The first 40 minutes of the film are the slowest 40 minutes of runtime in recent memory. I know I’m not the only one who felt this way because the kid on my left and I sighed at the exact same time. I found myself regretting my life decisions that ultimately led me to the theater, but then something strange happened: the movie started to win me back.
When Eddie Brock, played by the man of many accents Tom Hardy, becomes the titular symbiote, the film’s pace picked up. I found myself really enjoying the banter between Eddie and his alter ego. It’s far from Shakespeare, but it was certainly a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull film. I even found myself enjoying the over-the-top action sequences, which were surprisingly sparse throughout the movie. It seemed like for a moment the film had fully committed to the campy nature of its set-up. Suddenly, “Venom” rushes into a climax with barely any build-up. I was confused–I genuinely thought there was going to be another half-hour or so after the last fight scene, but I quickly realized I was dead wrong.
“Venom” is a film that is sadly lacking one unified vision to guide it where it needs to go. One moment the film is an edgy, dark-comedy superhero flick with the least fleshed out villian in a Marvel movie yet, and the next it’s a rom-com buddy cop film between two Tom Hardys. “Venom” is honestly a film best suited for the era of superhero movies of the mid-2000s, like “Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider” and “Elektra.” The theme song performed by Eminem is a stunning indictment of that fact. Is it a cinematic masterpiece? Far from it. Is it the best movie of October? Not even close. Is it a good time? Surprisingly, I would have to say yes. I found myself really liking the movie as it got its footing and I would dare say that I’m looking forward to an inevitable “Venom” sequel, which seems very likely considering the film smashed the October opening weekend record with a whopping $80 million.
The overwhelming amount of negative and mixed reviews were not enough to stop “Venom” from outperforming other competitors like “A Star Is Born,” but I’m now more interested in the future of “Venom” films Sony is going to produce. The upcoming Venomverse–not to be confused with the comic series of the same name–already has a “Morbius, The Living Vampire” film in the works with Jared Leto attached to the lead role. The growing trend of cinematic universes is troubling because many films are forced or rushed with no real goal in mind. This isn’t the first time Sony has made an attempt at this either.
Sony has a nasty habit of following trends before thinking, especially when it comes to Spider-Man. 2007’s “Spider-Man 3” is fondly remembered as the film that brought us emo Peter Parker, but it’s also responsible for ending that particular run of the character due to a jam-packed film of villains who didn’t need to be there. Sony made the same mistake again less than a decade later with 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which included painful attempts at setting up a “Sinister Six” film, which is still in the works somehow. Now that they have another character who is perfect to set up another cinematic universe, I’m worried that they’ll make the same mistake yet again.
Cinematic universes without thought often crash and burn pretty quickly. Just look at the 2017 film “The Mummy” and its attempt to set up the Dark Universe Cinematic Universe. Even DC has been struggling to catch the same success as Marvel with its cinematic universe, having recently lost their Superman. Studios are rushing to establish universes before they can even establish a world within a single film. Until another studio manages to grasp that concept, I doubt anyone will capture the same lightning in a bottle that Marvel did. I’ll watch a “Venom” sequel, but I can’t find myself excited by a Venomverse.