Venom is not just fun – it is fun on steroids
The year is 2014; Donald Trump is nowhere near your political radar, and in these simpler times, Sony Pictures is naïve enough to think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be a big hit with critics and has the potential to earn a billion dollars at the box office. In an alternate universe, perhaps we would have remained in those simpler times, but reality often hits you like a bus.
Contrary to high expectations, the film under-performed, which would have been obvious to anyone who actually saw The Amazing Spider-Man and was familiar with the dull Spider-Man we got in the form of Andrew Garfield. In any case, surrounded by superhero movies making the big bucks and wanting to get a bite of that superhero pie, Sony decided to let Marvel produce Spider-Man films. However, why stop there when you can make more money? They soon realised that their lifelong dream to have a shared universe could still become a reality, as Sony retained the rights to other characters from the Spider-Man comics. This is how the crusade to develop Sony’s very own Marvel Universe began, with the release of Venom, a very popular comic book character and Spider-Man’s archenemy.
Venom is a symbiote, a fictional alien species that require a host to survive. Once it bonds with a human host, it bestows its enhanced superpowers upon the host. The very talented Tom Hardy portrays Eddie Brock, the human host who bonds with the symbiote to collectively become Venom.
Sony has already gotten Venom wrong once, back in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. Topher Grace (That 70’s Show) portrayed Eddie back then, and his portrayal (the entire film, to be honest) fell completely flat to say the least. This time around, when Sony announced the casting of the movie, we at least knew the character was in the safe hands of an actor who manages to outdo himself with every movie. The supporting cast was also rounded off with talented actors like Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) and Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman).
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), the movie revolves around Eddie, an investigative journalist who loses it all when he starts investigating the LIFE Foundation and its suspicious leader, Carlton Drake (Ahmed), who is experimenting with the symbiote. Things go further south when the Venom symbiote is set loose and bonds with Eddie, who then slowly loses control of himself while the LIFE Foundation tries to hunt him down.
The movie disregards the source material and comes up with its own origin story for the character, for the movie cannot be connected to Spider-Man in any way, and this seems to work in its favour. While the movie would have been a much better and more engaging watch had it been an R-rated affair for adults with a lot of blood and gore, one must acknowledge that a PG-13 Venom is still a far better film than The Amazing Spider-Man series ever was.
Venom’s plot is not its strongest point, but is decent enough to make the film enjoyable. To say that Hardy’s energetic performance carries the movie would be the understatement of the decade. Hardy is what makes Venom extremely toxic, and when it comes to venom, the more toxic it is, the better.
The movie is full of moments you are sure to discuss long after you have left the cinema, with the conversations between Eddie and Venom most definitely being the highlight of the movie. Had Eddie been a cop, this could have easily been a buddy cop comedy; the only difference being that this buddy cop duo directly eats the heads of the criminals. In one particularly awesome scene, Eddie says to Venom,
“We cannot just hurt people.”
To which Venom replies,
“Look in my eyes, Eddie. The way I see it... we can do whatever we want. Do we have a deal?”
Such well written banter between the two is what will definitely keep the audience entertained throughout the movie.
Moving to our antagonist, Ahmed is an impressive actor, yet he is unable to become as fearsome a villain as the film demands. However, he is easily more convincing than many other superhero villains, such as the Mandarin from Iron Man 3, Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy, and Enchantress from Suicide Squad.
Moreover, the CGI in the movie is also more impressive compared to what we saw earlier in the trailer, making the final showdown a treat to watch, even though audiences will most likely find the climax to be disappointing.
Overall, while buying a ticket for a movie featuring a ‘loser’ who then becomes the host to an alien, most people are aware they will not leave the theatre with some life-changing epiphany; instead, the movie will have lots of gags at the expense of certain characters and will be a good distraction during its running time. And Venom is not just fun – Venom is fun on steroids. It is hellishly entertaining, and those who enjoy it will be left craving a sequel. Every once in a while, the critics get it really wrong, so do yourselves a favour and don’t go with Rotten Tomatoes on this one, and have a blast instead!
All photos: Sony Pictures