Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad), Venom has appeared on plenty of worst of lists this year. I held back judgment until I saw the movie. I can sum it up in one word: underwhelming. But after all, who was clamoring for a Venom movie after Spider-Man 3? Who was needing one in 2018? And after the magic of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, why do filmmakers feel they can still be so lazy with superheroes?
That said, Venom is critic proof. After all, it was a box office success, ultimately earning $855 million worldwide, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2018.
It all comes down to one good thing: Tom Hardy. It’s like this dude has to have the craziest voices in movies. His Eddie Brock voice is just the most need to please accent ever, while Venom, in his own words, is a “James Brown lounge lizard.” The relationship between these two characters — who become one person — is the best part of the movie. Hardy also improvised a lot, such as when he jumps into a lobster tank to cool down. I kind of love that the dude was pretty much making up his own film. The actor claimed that he based his performance on Woody Allen, Conor McGregor and Redman.
Everything else — from the villains to Eddie Brock’s relationships — is as generic as it gets. Big points for having Jenny Slate in here, even if she does nothing. It’s like the film felt it had to give us an origin when all we want to see is Venom break stuff. The end of the film, where he eats a criminal and meets Cletus “Carnage” Kasady (and come on, who doesn’t want to watch Woody Harrelson against Hardy in a battle of accents and overacting) is exactly what everyone really wants, not nearly two hours of generic soldiers and Venom battling Elon Musk.
In the spin of selling this movie, Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch claimed that “Venom was considered a spin on a horror film, inspired by the works of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, but with more pop and fun.” People that say these kinds of things have never seen films by these two directors. Get their words out of your mouth and make better movies.
The hard part of this whole thing is that there’s a tease of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which will either make you say, “I should have just watched that” or “Man, that was such a better movie.”
You know what is great about this movie? The Asian ad campaign, that promised that Venom was the best boyfriend ever. This ad above? It says, “Life’s most beautiful moment is the instant when I hold up an umbrella for you.”
The non-awesome thing? The Eminem theme for the movie. It gets stuck in your head. But it’s so bad — va-va-Venom? Wow. Really?