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Venom (2018)

Genre -- Superhero, Action
Premise -- "When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego 'Venom' to save his life."

It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but…

Venom is pretty bad. Not surprising. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and all we cinema fans can do is to analyze its failure, including myself.

Y’know when I knew Venom would be a mediocre film? During its opening scene. Often, blockbusters will begin with an intriguing open, reeling the viewer in and setting up the world to be explored for the next two hours. Thor: Ragnarok, a superhero film I actually enjoyed, began with a shot of Thor locked up in a fiery dungeon. I was hooked.

Venom, on the other hand, beings with a generic looking spaceship crashing into Earth. Hmmm. We then get slight taste of the ‘Symbiote’, a mysterious alien life form, but the scene is painfully tame. Every flavor felt is bland and familiar. Foggy night sky. Bulging eyes. A flipped ambulance. Tame, tame, tame.

Then we cut to our main character, Eddie Brock, played by the charismatic Tom Hardy. And look - he’s a headstrong, handsome journalist who doesn’t play by the rules! Ahhh, we love him already! He also has a beautiful wife! But wait, because he doesn’t play by the rules, he ends up getting dumped by the wife! Gasp! Gee, I wonder if she’ll have a significant role in the film’s third act!

Oh, but we also have to set up the film’s villain, who’s a walking, talking glossary of movie-exclusive scientific babble and manipulative tendencies. I forgot his name already, so let’s call him Mr. Evil. Intriguingly, Mr. Evil's the guy responsible for introducing the ‘Symbiote’; therefore, Eddie has to end up in his laboratory, which is accomplished through...

Long story short: it took 40 minutes to introduce Venom! Yes, the main selling point of… Venom. Afterwards, horribly edited and exceedingly loud action sequences dominate. They’re creatively bankrupt, too, as one scene involve killer drones, another takes place in a building, the climactic battle on a rocket… the worst offender, however, is a daring motorcycle jump off a San Francisco hill. Suspense is gradually built as Eddie + Venom race up a steep incline, only to reveal that there is no hole, no enemy waiting at the bottom. The jump is literally there just to create a rush of adrenaline. My God!

There are plenty of other flaws in Venom I haven’t discussed in-depth. For example, everyone except Tom Hardy recites passable platitudes about love, the Symbiote, or science. The characters are monotone as well; I think Confucius once said that if a lobby receptionist is more complex and layered than Mr. Evil, your movie is poo-poo, but I’ll have to fact-check that.

And again, Venom isn’t completely hopeless or incompetent. The technical precision in it is on par with award-winning pictures. But it’s just so mediocre, especially when you consider that Venom costs the same amount of money to watch as Thor: Ragnarok. The bar for how good cinema can be is being raised each year; Venom uses the grading rubric for a 90’s film.

To end on a positive note, I enjoyed the controversial “turd in the wind” line. It made me laugh. It’s one of few moments when Venom dares to be different. It’s also an aspect of the film that received copious amounts of criticism on social media. Ironic, methinks.