Saturday, January 5, 2019

Movie Reviews: Venom

directed by Ruben Fleischer
Middling movie with more than a little camp
I didn't see Venom initially in part because so many comic fanboys claimed disappointment with the movie. This film is an origin tale of the titular character, someone who at best might be considered an anti-hero but is mostly, from the comics I remember reading, a straight up bad guy. 

The movie mostly downplayed Venom's unpleasant side either by playing it for laughs (the character constantly threatens to eat the heads of people who displease him) or by simply not showing the more violent actions. This movie is rated PG-13. It probably should have gone for the R rating. 

Because I was only slightly familiar with the character's history, I didn't have raised expectations. This was a decent Sony/Marvel movie that stuck to formula. It felt like I had seen it before. If you're fine with that sense then this could be an okay time investment. Strangely enough the movie has a few nods to Taxi Driver and similar films, but because it shies away from explicit depictions of carnage, never truly convinces in the way that films like say, The Dark Knight did.

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative journalist whom most people, including his fiancee Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), would agree is a pain in the tuchus. Anne is a successful attorney. It seems that she's slumming with Eddie. Eddie must have some hidden talents. It doesn't help the film that Hardy and Williams don't seem to have too much chemistry together. And by "too much" I mean any. Williams looks bored in her scenes with Hardy. This is not Robert Downey Jr. with Gwyneth Paltrow, or Brad Pitt with Marion Cotillard.  Nope.  

Anyway Brock is hard to get along with, but he feels that any good investigative journalist owes it to himself and the public to be an agitator, a pest, someone who will track down and expose lies and wrong doing at the highest levels of society.

The oleaginous CEO of the Life Foundation, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), a combination of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Persian king in 300, has attracted Brock's attention. Unknown to anyone, Drake has discovered extra-terrestrial life and bought it back to earth. He's doing experiments to try to make this life, which in its natural state looks like the Blob, bind with humans. Brock doesn't know about that. 

But he does know about some funky human experiments which the Life Foundation has been doing. The only reason that Brock knows about these experiments is because he (without her permission or knowledge) read his girlfriend's email. Her firm is preparing to defend the Life Foundation. Business is business, you know.

Brock's boss and the Life Foundation, oblivious to Brock's inside information, set up a softball interview with Drake and Brock, hoping that the Life Foundation can use Brock's rep for savage truth telling to make the Life Foundation look good. 

Things go sideways when Brock refuses to play ball. Brock pesters Drake about past misdeeds and inadvertently reveals inside information which could have only come from one person. Well that wasn't smart. Brock and Weying are each fired. Weying isn't happy about that. Weying no longer wants to play house with an unemployed loser who reads her emails. She dumps Brock for a man on her own socio-economic level. When Brock is near rock bottom he's contacted by Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) a Life Foundation scientist who's convinced Drake has lost any moral guidance. 

Skirth tells Brock he was on the right track. She sneaks Brock into a Life Foundation complex to show him the human trials and the extra-terrestrial life. Thru a sequence of unlikely events Brock is infected by the alien symbiote. Brock doesn't remember the event even as he escapes the lab. Later Brock starts hearing voices and having strange hungers. Drake wants "his" symbiote back. And he'll stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Mayhem ensues.

The special effects, although obviously CGI, work. Like all parasites, Venom is to a certain extent very invested in its host's well being. Venom can not survive without a host; not every human is capable of bonding with a symbiote. On the other hand Venom may save Brock's life but that doesn't mean it's sharing everything it knows with Brock either. Parasites may cause the host to act in ways that make no sense for the host but are completely rational for the parasite. Venom's processed voice is a nice touch. This was an okay pumped up B-movie that was fun enough provided you weren't a Venom fanboy or needed more ultraviolence.
blog comments powered by Disqus