So, last night I took a trip to my local ArcLight Cinemas (this would be the one located in Pasadena, CA). My mission was to observe and report on Sony’s latest attempt to salvage any confidence we may have had in their ability to produce a Spider-Man related film that was up to snuff with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (emphasis on “had”). Surely, they must have learned from all the mistakes and blunders that were made with Spider-man 3, right? Well, the answer to that question is a resounding NOPE.COM. Here’s my attempt at a laconic review (Lord knows I could definitely write more) of Venom……because I wouldn’t want to reiterate what your inner monologue has probably already conveyed to the logical part of your brain, which is, that it’s no bueno.
The film never really figures out which tone it wants to tackle – horror or comedy, possibly a hybrid of both, I don’t know. I’m also not sure what the writers of the film were trying to accomplish. It felt like they were attempting to emulate the humor which plays out so perfectly in Marvel’s films, yet failed miserably at every step in the process of scripting. Venom’s dialogue is bad, like, really bad. I cringed multiple times. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, one which you’ve probably already seen in the last trailer for the film….
“We will eat both your arms, and then both of your legs, and then we will eat your face right off your head. You will be this armless, legless, faceless thing, won’t you? Going down the street…like a turd…in the wind.”
And there are many, many more examples of this lack of homework regarding the source material. It’s one thing to take creative liberties with an existing property, to play around with the character’s history in order to bring us something new from a different perspective. But the trick is to stay within the boundaries of who the character is. Marvel and Kevin Feige are masters of this. The litmus test should always be: what would this character do? Unfortunately, the film played out like an “alternate universe” sort of origin story, one where any trace of Venom’s long history in the comics was nowhere to be found.
I think the biggest problem with the story is that it cut all ties to the element which makes Venom Venom: Spider-Man. The character has always been inextricably linked to the web-slinger. Everything about the symbiote can be sourced back to its time spent with Peter: the way it looks, the way it moves, the way it doesn’t trigger Pete’s Spider-Sense, everything. Yet, none of this is mentioned – even in passing – anywhere in the movie. The Spider symbol is even mysteriously absent from Venom’s chest. It would be like making a Batman film without Bruce’s parents ever being murdered. In short, without Spider-Man, there is no Venom.
Additionally, the mid-credits scene that alluded to an expanded universe was just dumb. Longtime readers probably got it, but non-readers might have been confused. For those of you who were, don’t worry folks, you’re not missing anything terribly important.
Probably the only good thing about Venom was how they creatively cut to a long preview of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse during the closing credits, which looks awesome, by the way.
Final summation: if you’re looking for a “Fast and the Furious” type of action film to be entertained by, have never read a Venom comic, and know nothing about the character, you’ll probably enjoy this movie. For most readers, however, it’s going to most likely annoy you. Such a sad thing, though. I think the core cast is really good. It’s just that Sony never wanted to sincerely expand the Spider-Man universe. Like Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, they’re just out to cash-in on our undying love of comic books and make a profit along the way. C’est la vie, I suppose.