We walked into the theater to celebrate my friend’s birthday, dragging our expectations along the carpet. In spite of our pessimistic outlook walking in, Sony’s “Venom” managed to leave us laughing and engaged, setting aside a less-than-coherent plot.
Anti-superhero-themed movies have risen to the forefront since Warner Brothers’ DC Extended Universe release of “Suicide Squad” in 2016. These movies place the villain in the shoes of the protagonist in an ironic show of anti-heroism.
“Venom” follows the story of investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who loses his career and fiancée after he takes a shot at the Life Foundation, a big corporation that is performing unethical experiments to try to bond alien parasites to human hosts. Brock eventually infiltrates the Life Foundation’s lab and retrieves proof of the experiments — but at a cost.
One of the symbiote aliens’ bonds to Brock and introduces itself as “Venom,” who only Brock can hear. Venom allows Brock to transform into a fearsome, black tar-like creature with super-human powers and a penchant for eating live prey.
Critics lambasted the film for being noisy and unfocused. It earned a critical score of 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, even though the average audience rating score was 87 percent.
“The ingratiating eccentricities of ‘Venom’ aren’t enough to really distinguish the movie from its superhero-movie brethren as it devolves into the usual expensive orgy of sound, fury and wisecracking,” said Glenn Kenny, a critic at The New York Times.
Though the film did have some issues crafting a coherent and well-paced plot, this could be chalked up to the amount of content that was cut from the final movie. Hardy said in an interview with ComicsExplained that his favorite scenes were cut from the movie. The final act seemed incredibly rushed; the climax of the film stung the audience and suddenly shifted to the resolution.
Still, “Venom” was fun and light-hearted. The formula between Hardy and his demonic counterpart Venom was well-done. The conversations between the two make perfect sense because the audience can hear Venom’s voice, even though the supporting characters cannot. Selectively ignoring Venom’s voice in Brock’s mind, however, yielded a different paradigm in which the audience could empathize with the people around Brock who think he is completely insane.
The writers’ sense of humor kept the dark film from slipping into the abyss of horror. Venom made short work of any bad guys that tried to cross Brock.
Meanwhile, Brock had to keep Venom’s carnivorous impulses in check like a parent teaching a child self-restraint. This created many flippant scenes in which Brock, focused on survival, scolded Venom, who wanted to eat the heads of their defeated foes.
Though “Venom” was not the ultimate anti-superhero that many fans probably hoped for, it was an enjoyable and fun release from the otherwise morally straight superhero tropes.