Directed by Rubin Fleischer | Written by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Venom has long been a favourite anti-hero in the Marvel Universe. Fans were very disappointed at the rushed treatment given to the character in the largely panned Spiderman 3 film starring Topher Grace in the role of Eddie Brock. With three writers on this film, one would hold hope they could pull off a gritty and dark film for fans who have patiently waited for Venom to truly hit the big screen. Sadly I must report those fans will have to keep waiting.
Here come the spoilers.
Eddie Brock, played to some near perfection by Tom Hardy, is an investigative reporter who has had some issues going after the big guys who he knows are evil and corrupt. On the one hand, he is respected for his willingness to chase the truth, but gets chastised when he can’t reveal sources due to wanting to protect the unethical ways he received the information. In this film’s case, he snooped on his fiancée’s laptop who just happens to be a lawyer working for the legal firm that represents the big tech company Life Foundation. Life Foundation is revealed to be sending rockets to space to retrieve life forms they refer to as symbiotes. These symbiotes cannot survive in our environment without a host to live in. The CEO of Life Foundation, Carlton Drake, played by Riz Ahmed, wants to bridge humans with these symbiotes as a way to live in space as he believes that life on earth is doomed to overpopulation and resource exhaustion. What is missing is any backstory to prove the CEO’s convictions. In another Marvel film Avengers Infinity War, those writers deliver on the villain’s conviction very well in how they portray Thanos, but in this film, it seems to be merely some dialogue and nothing to show us what brought him to this conviction in his life. The risks and measures he takes as a man of science tread upon being a madman and wanting to be a God, as some dialogue actually touches upon that idea. So conviction has been thrown out the window. The villain is nothing more than mad and this is essentially what fails this film.
Ton Hardy is just about the only redeemable part of this film showing decent interactions with the symbiote, Venom, and the struggle to get along and protect each other. There are some decent one liners, but let me be honest here, this needed to be an ‘R rated’ film in the same vein as Deadpool. I actually think, what is so misleading from the trailers, is you feel as if you are getting a dark gritty film, but instead the action sequences are just dark (dark as in lighting, and shot at night). CGI cannot make up for poor writing and trying to shove in a lost love story angle while in the midst of world destruction from an alien race is just weak writing.
So, how to fix this film? Well, for starters, show Carlton visiting India as a young man and seeing firsthand the effects of overpopulation in the slums. Perhaps he lost family members due to starvation there. This would root his conviction in something he is purposefully passionate about and give him some backstory to show what drove him to create scientific breakthroughs for the world. Once you firm up the villain’s conviction, you can now focus back to Venom. Venom needs to experience more of life through Eddie’s eyes and there simply needs to be more time to grow an appreciation of life on earth. Just the one scene on top of a media news corporation tower is not convincing. Set up a scene where Venom sees crime and the bad sides of people, but then sees good people doing the right thing. He can have great conversations with Eddie to ask why strangers would get involved in helping other strangers. Like when there is a fire in a building, or when people stand up to gang members. Just city lights isn’t enough, in my opinion, to change a symbiote’s mind. This is just lazy writing.
The climax and resolution can play out from here once you fix these two major story issues, and with perhaps an ‘R rating’ you can take the action and mood and set a darker tone. That would give the fans of Venom what they want, and not just what the studio wants to play it safe for the sake of wider viewership. Deadpool and Logan both proved beyond a doubt that R rated comic book films can have great success at the box office. Venom could easily have had similar success, but they were too afraid to take the risk and played this chance at a franchise too safe. Safe to a character like Venom, is simply just boring.
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