*. I wasn’t too far into Venom before I started feeling like this was a movie that I’d seen before.
*. I know what you’re saying. It’s a Marvel movie. Of course I’d seen it before. The origin story. The CGI that scales buildings and goes on crazy car chases. The hero who has to find a balance between saving the world and fixing his relationship with his girlfriend. Aren’t all these movies the same?
*. Well, yes, they are all pretty much the same. But what I’m referring to is the plot. You see, Venom is this alien “symbiote” that has come to Earth, along with a team of fellow symbiotes, basically in order to eat people. He bonds with down-and-out journalist Eddie Brock who then has to fight a super-Venom symbiote called Riot who has taken over the head of a seemingly benign but actually quite evil corporation.
*. Isn’t this the same as a bunch of other Marvel movies where the hero has to fight an evil doppelganger? In Iron Man Tony Stark is supplanted by Obadiah Stane who steals the Iron Monger suit, making him the anti-Iron Man. In Ant-Man, Hank Pym (whose proxy becomes Scott Lang) is supplanted by Darren Cross who becomes Yellowjacket (the anti-Ant-Man). In Black Panther T’Challa is supplanted by Killmonger. In this movie Venom has to take on Riot. Once you know the pattern you’re just staying to watch them tear up buildings and beat each other up.
*. Venom might have been something different. It might have been darker, given Venom’s thing for biting off people’s heads and Riot’s arsenal of weapons. But the violence is edited so quickly you don’t actually see anything.
*. It might also have been funnier. There’s one good line from Venom about piling up bodies and heads as though it’s the most natural thing in the world, but that’s it. Despite the comic potential of having two personalities inhabiting one body it’s not a funny script. Plus I don’t think Tom Hardy plays comedy well. He got a lot of praise from reviewers but I didn’t get the sense he was comfortable in the part and I just couldn’t buy him as Eddie Brock.
*. So it’s not a superhero horror movie and it’s not a superhero comedy. What we’re left with is a really long, boring car chase and a really long, boring fight between the two symbiotes at the end. Maybe I’m just getting jaded (and I know I am getting jaded) but the CGI looked like crap to me. I wasn’t buying Venom’s movements at all. Finally, the relationship between Eddie and his girlfriend is so vague I thought it would have been better if it had been left out entirely. Are they back together at the end? Whatever happened to Dr. Dan?
*. This is all too bad because Venom might have been an interesting character. His personality, however, is hard to get a grip on. He identifies with Eddie because they’re both losers, but what does that mean for a symbiote? How sophisticated is he when he acts like he’s just a walking stomach? I appreciate the henchman Treece’s indefatigable pursuit of such a beast, but at what point should he have figured out what he was up against and come up with some different tactics? I mean, tasers? He thought those were going to work?
*. For some reason Venom was pretty widely panned by critics. I’m not sure why. You’ll have gathered from what I’ve written here that I didn’t like it much, but the thing is, it’s not that different, either for better or worse, than any other Marvel movie. Black Panther got rave reviews and Oscar nominations, but was it that much better? Meanwhile, like the universe itself, the MCU just keeps expanding, it’s only enemy now being entropy.