Eddie Brock is a helluva nice guy. The first 20 minutes of Venom goes to great, seemingly earnest pains to make it clear Eddie Brock is a helluva nice guy.
Then Eddie Brock makes a terrible decision and becomes very down on his luck. The second 20 minutes of Venom goes to great, seemingly earnest pains to make it clear Eddie Brock is very down on his luck.
By this time moviegoers may begin mentally preparing their tweets lambasting Sony’s corny, failed effort.
Then very down-on-his-luck nice guy Eddie Brock bonds with a surprisingly wry alien symbiote (c’mon, if you’re reading Newsarama there is no way that is a spoiler) and Venom spends the next hour making you second guess the intentions of star/producer Tom Hardy, director Ruben Fleischer, and screenwriters Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel all along.
To detail more about the switcheroo Venom pulls off in its second act would like spoiling the last five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War. In this case the spoilers are in the ‘experience’ of Venom unfolding, not in any specific story details, which are fairly paint-by-numbers super(anti-)hero action plot points.
The inherent problem with Venom to begin with was without Spider-Man - an integral part of the comic book version’s origin and reason for being - it’d be like Sony was making a Joker movie with Batman, and who would ever do that..?
Let’s start over.
In Sony’s quest to mine the value of their intellectual property of the Marvel Spider-Man rights they possess, but without access to Spider-Man, the studio is running the risk of offering watered-down versions of fan-favorite characters to fans who hold the comic book incarnations of the characters in reverence. I’m going to admit I went into Venom with questions about how the filmmakers were going to pull off making audiences notice a character that was yang to a more famous character’s ying but without the ying. And there answer was to make a unique film in the crowded superhero marketplace.
To some degree, the film wants to be Sony’s version of Deadpool or Logan, though its nothing like Deadpool or Logan per se. Venom just successfully manages to be its own thing.
How much mileage that thing will get with moviegoers will be an interesting study in franchise risk-taking and audience expectation but Venom is on the borderline of being a good film. In fact, it’s french-kissing the borderline. The outright cinematic stunt it pulls will likely garner more negative than positive reviews, and to be upfront, I’m not quite sure I can say I think Venom is a good film.
Bu just when you think you know where its all going, things get turned up to 11, and assumptions get turned on their head.
So I can say it was an interesting movie experience that seems to grow more positively in my mind as the hours pass. Credit also goes to Tom Hardy for the degree in which he embraces the shenanigans. If Hardy wasn’t already an accomplished, serious actor, you might say the 21st century found its new Bruce Campbell.
But to say more is to risk taking away the specific things the film has going for it.
So if you’re inclined, check out Venom, and you may not even need an open mind. Confounding expectations may be part of experience.
And try to avoid more revealing reviews. I’m not sure if many of the comic book faithful are going to like Venom at the end of the day, but I bet next week it’s going to generate some interesting discussion.
Venom opens in North American theaters October 5.