Venom: Too Late to Suck the Poison Out

Film Critique Written By Christian J. Ashliman

Due to the acute opinions I had while watching the newly released film, Venom, I felt compelled to dictate several of my issues with the story telling, flow of the movie, and overall feeling I was left with after sitting through a Marvel sized helping of after-credit scenes. While I do feel that I could more fully explain my positions on this film if I were to fill this piece with plot spoilers, I do understand that this movie was highly anticipated and is still extremely new in its release; so I will try to keep the main story points under wraps.

Venom’s plot line struggles throughout the entire film to maintain a consistent, comfortable flow, instead delivering a narrative that is overly drawn out in some cases, and rushed through in others. During the first half of the film, the story is told of the life of reporter Eddie Brock, before the Symbiote, Venom, has come into contact. Backstory within hero movies is always interesting, and causes audiences to ask a lot of great questions; however, the context that was presented on-screen for the development of Brock was largely uninteresting and cliche. Although brilliant actor Tom Hardy does the best he can with the mediocre script he was given, I was still left with a, “so what?” feeling midway through the film, keeping in mind I still hadn’t actually seen Venom in character yet.

Tom Hardy plays Venom/Eddie Brock in the new 2018 cinematic film, Venom.

As the backstory of Brock, and his eventual contact with Venom, transitions into their union, the second half of the story jumps into hyper drive. Seemingly, the movie goes from 10 mile per hour, dragged out story telling, to a 100 mile an hour roller coaster jaunt that leaves you with a kinked neck. During this escapade, the antagonist finally makes his appearance, and key plot points addressed during the first half of the film are tossed out the window; particularly in regards to how volatile the joining of Symbiote and human is portrayed.  On this front, it seemed to me as if the story had completely forgotten about the exposition it attempted to establish earlier in the film, which in turn left me to question the credibility of the entire narrative.

One key feature that has always been the highlight of Venom’s character, is his moral compass. His anti-hero tendencies and interesting personality are what really sell Venom as a whole. With Tom Hardy’s acting style at the wheel, I believed this development of the story would most likely be my favorite part, before walking into the theater. To my dismay, this inner dialogue between Venom and Brock, where they set the boundaries and limitations of their relationship, wasn’t addressed until the final two minutes of the movie. Furthermore, during moments in the film that seemed to take a jab at establishing Venom’s character more fully, the writers spliced in “comedic” quips that failed to deliver any sort of context-appropriate impression. Moments that could almost be considered horror-esque, were instead conveyed jokingly, and without any real development direction.

The film, Venom, had many opportunities to put it’s “eggs” in more interesting plot “baskets”, but failed to do so; choosing to focus on boring, elongated character backstory points for the entirety of the first half, and rushed, improbable story telling for the second. In some ways, particularly when taking into account the after credits scene, it seems as though Marvel isn’t concerned with adequate narrative exposition on a movie-by-movie basis, instead only viewing the entire story from the standpoint of how many squeals they can make. This practice leaves audiences feeling uninterested and disappointed in a fictional character that is actually extremely interesting, when fleshed out correctly. Venom falls exceedingly short for me, rating a 3 out of 10.

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