Yep, we've got another Spider-Manstory…sort of. In fact, instead of Spider-Man, today's movie focuses on one of his most famous villains, Venom. He consistently remains a popular character within the Marvel comics thanks to his persona (about a monster of a human who has an even bigger monster inside) and design that is frightening and cool looking. I attest Venom as a character similar to a horror villain like Freddy Kruger; someone who you know is not good but seems to have fun doing what they do. He also serves as a polar opposite of Spider-Man, having similar powers, but is darker and more powerful.
The idea of making him an antihero is not a bad one. I can see how they could take a very flawed person and make him sympathetic for his cause, like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harryor Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai. It would have to take a skilled writer and a director who could understand the duality between the man Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote, Venom. It would also have to figure out the purpose of this alien and how it's ideology changes after being on Earth. Sadly, Venomdoes none of that and goes for something more standard.
In San Francisco, investigative reporter Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) is doing a story on the Life Foundation. The Life Foundation's president Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed) is questioned about his companies' space exploration and the experiments it's performing on people. Carlton has Eddie escorted off the property, and without evidence to back up his claims, Eddie is fired from his job and loses his district attorney girlfriend Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams). Of course, Carlton is working on symbiotes his team had acquired from space and is trying to find suitable hosts.
Sometime later, Eddie has become a disgraced writer who can't get work. This seems to change when he's approached by Dr. Dora Skirth (played by Jenny Slate), a scientist at the Life Foundation who wants the companies evildoings exposed. While sneaking around with her, Eddie is exposed to one of the symbiotes who. He escapes but he starts to hear a dark voice talking to him and finds himself consistently eating. The symbiote reveals itself as "Venom" (Played by Eddie Brock) whose come to Earth to eat humans, but understands that it has to work with Eddie to survive and stop other symbiotes from coming.
Venomhas a lot that could have made it a unique, more of a horror-comedy based story. Instead, this goes for of the standard superhero origin story and some odd editing, but we'll get to that in a moment. I'll say that Tom Hardy may be the perfect actor to portray Venom/Eddie Brock. He's taken tough material before and could have played both parts just fine. But we neither get enough time to know enough about Eddie Brock (who always comes off like a nice guy trying to play arrogant and bullish) or Venom (who mostly says,"Rawr, let's eat his heart and brain! Rawr, so many snacks!").
The rest of the characters and story more or less are given a pass. Michelle Williams is the typical nice girlfriend, Riz Ahmed is the typical corporate villain, and Jenny Slate is the typical nerdy scientist with a heart of gold. Their not bad, but we also don't get enough time to know them as characters. It all feels like much of that was neglected in favor of moving the story forward. Once Venom does come in the picture, we do get some interesting sequences (Eddie Brock going crazy, a car chase, and a S.W.A.T. team fight). The effects do take advantage of the situation that Venom is more of a "blob" type alien and tries to be creative with it. There's just not character to make me care for it.
Let's talk about the editing. I read that Venomwas meant to be an R rated movie, but was cut down to ensure a mainstream audience. It's painfully obvious, as Venom is always talking about eating people and has the sharp teeth to enact some gory scenes. Instead of a genuinely scary character, the PG-13 now makes a lot of that more like the speech of a thirteen year-old trying to be scary. Plus, there are moments where Eddie Brock and Venom seem to have different goals, but then seem like good friends without a transition or indication. There's even a scene where a character goes into a building at night, and suddenly it's day.
I'll give this two Venoms out of five. I get the feeling that while this movie sucks, an R rated cut that might have more character driven scenes that might have made this work. But as it is, this Venom lives up to the title; it feels like cinematic poison that will bore audiences then excite them. This is a superhero story that really needs the antidote.