That’s No Venom in Sony’s Rehash of Marvel Comics’ Favourite Antihero

5 Oct

Venom (2018 film) PosterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Spoiler Alert

Ever since Venom hit the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #300, his fame meter can hardly outshine another star-studded film debuting the same weekend. The movie’s action is essentially Terminator 2 on steroids and given a The Streets of San Francisco vibe. The title character does not feel the same as the one represented in comics. Without an arch-nemesis, this anti-hero lacks punch. I wanted to see the white Spider-Man logo across his chest. Without it, the interest in this film was minimal, other than to see how well the CGI works this time around.

The version in Spider-Man 3 had Sam Raimi’s trademark touch on it. The effect looked cheap. With digital effects far superior now, the goo looks wonderfully slick, and to see the story from Eddie Brock’s (Tom Hardy) perspective is the right choice. He’s a television reporter who cracks down on local cases Geraldo Rivera style, and when he asks the wrong questions to Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the CEO of Life Foundation, he is out of a job. He also loses his girlfriend and has taken to drinking.

When Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), one of Drake’s employees, question his motives, the decision to help Brock out was the right thing. Through no fault of her own, sneaking him to the lab exposes Brock to his new significant other. In the books, this entity is known as a symbiote and it draws some power and also the persona from the victim than the other way around. In this film’s case, it is very self-aware and speaks like it should belong in the Evil Dead universe. Although the reveals by the alien give a solid origin, I thought the mystery is better served by not saying anything. A better idea is not to say anything and surprise moviegoers with The Symbiote Wars (as seen in the animated Guardians of the Galaxy). I rather enjoyed this take, as this departure from the Spidey-verse never depended in the wall-crawler ever appearing. In the animated worlds, this alien’s origins has gotten quite complex; its black skinned and pearly evil-eyed look was established well before Spidey ever touched it.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not likely to amalgamate anytime soon. Sony owns the rights to make their own version and mix it up however they like. In what works in this film is in Hardy’s performance. Ahmed is as slick as a used car salesman and the plot is as thin as setting up a sentai film. The huge fight is expected and does not measure up to MCU’s battle royales. To save the world from destruction is a scenario completely unneeded. Since Venom is meant to be a hero of sorts, no hints of how he can do good is offered. Brock’s rules to the alien is too funny. Maybe a sequel is needed to fix his status, as for now, he has no role in any universe.

The suggestion after the credits suggests an epic multiverse crossover. This scene would not be offered unless the studio has something huge in mind. Given the number of past Spider-man movies which exist, to see Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland banding together as Spider-Men can be a wild ride.

3 Stars out of 5

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