Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay By: Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenburg, Kelly Marcel
Story By: Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenburg
Release Date: October 5th, 2018
Runtime: 1 Hour, 52 Minutes
Link to IMDb
When I review a movie, I generally try to focus more on whether the film is fun before focusing on the more critical aspects of it. Most of the time, when I do talk about said aspects, I do so to explain how they make the film entertaining or how they detract from it. Even if a movie looks like garbage, the performances suck, the script is awful and it’s truly incompetent on every level, I’ll still enjoy it so long as I had fun.
That being said: I have no fucking idea how I feel about this movie.
I don’t hate it, nor do I love it. It’s not good, but it’s not bad. It’s not mediocre to a painful degree, but it’s not exceptionally entertaining. When it’s good, it’s really fun. When it’s bad, it’s downright infuriating.
Let’s start with the positives. For one: this movie is actually, for the most part at least, really pretty to look at. The lighting looks nice, each shot is actually really well composed and pretty, and they all communicate the feeling of the scenes and characters really well. It’s not grade-a cinematography, don’t get me wrong, but it does it’s job and it does it well.
The special effects are also pretty good. Sure, there’s the occasional green screen shot that is not so good looking, such as a few of Eddie during the motorcycle chase. But all in all, it’s a good looking movie. The Symbiotes all look nice, and Venom looks super fucking rad! Plus, they do some really creative things with his different abilities, such as him using all of his form to turn Eddie’s bike on it’s side and slide around to the side to avoid crashing. It’s goofy, fun, and put a big ol’ smile on my face.
The music is also mostly really good. I’m not a fan of the insert rap songs they use, but the original score is really solid. Some of them are super exillerating, and others are just really nice pieces that are enjoyable to listen to. It’s nothing you’ll hum in the shower, but it’s solid nonetheless.
The action is also really fun, and it’s shot pretty well. I could always tell what was happening, and what was happening was sick as hell! Watching Venom jump in and out of a smokescreen to beat down (as well as eat one of) SWAT officers is really fucking cool! He utilizes his different abilities in amazing ways, and it works well for this iteration of Venom! Even better: they knew not to give him Spider-Man’s powers, as the Venom Symbiote has never bonded with Peter Parker in this story!
Speaking of which, I really like how they altered Eddie’s origin story to better work with this movie. It’s still incredibly faithful to the original while still altering it enough to work without Spider-Man. Even despite the films various flaws, it’s clear that the writers understood Venom on, at the very least, a basic level.
On the subject of Venom, let’s talk about the best thing in this movie: his dynamic with Eddie. Sure, it’s the central factor in one of the film’s biggest problems from a story telling perspective, but in terms of dialogue and chemistry? It’s great! The two interact with one another super well, and I couldn’t help but get a smile on my face whenever they spoke.
But then there’s the problem with that, and it’s easily the biggest problem in the movie: their relationship is completely rushed. It doesn’t build up slowly over time, with the two learning to work together and put their differences aside. Venom doesn’t gain an appreciation and love for the world over the course of many trials. After a single scene of clarity, the two put aside their differences, and Venom abandons his need to destroy the Earth after a single view of the horizon.
The story could have been so much better if it were just properly paced. But everything is just rushed along far too fast! You get one scene of Eddie having a successful relationship, being respected at his job, and a montage of being successful. Then, after the interview, everyone immediately turns on him. If we had started before Eddie was slated for the interview, when everything is hunky dory, then before the day of the interview, when everyone is nervous that Eddie’s going to do something stupid, and then afterwards where everyone abandons him for failing them, then it’d feel a little more well paced.
The pacing is far from the only issue. The dialogue is also far from good. Sure, most of it is fine, and practically every line from Venom is at least entertaining, but a good majority of it is just terrible. Mainly because Eddie doesn’t know how to shut up! Seriously, he just keeps cracking lines that I suppose are intended to be jokes, even after he gets hit by a fucking car and all of his bones are broken! Kind of a bad time to be doing anything other than moaning in agony!
Worst of all is the movie’s rating. Normally, I don’t go into how a movie should be rated when discussing it’s merits in a fun or critical sense. But this movie really needed an R rating. Having Venom’s brain eating be a little more gruesome would’ve made him feel all the more dangerous, and it would’ve made the movie stand out against it’s contemporaries! But now it feels neutered.
This also suffered a lot in the editing room. I mentioned earlier that the movie has some serious pacing issues, and this is why. It feels like significant chunks were cut out of the movie, either to meet a PG-13 rating or just to slim down the run time. Either way, the product at large suffers significantly because of it. And since we’re obviously never getting that R-Rated cut, I feel it’s right to say that it’s a damn tragedy.
I really hoped that, after putting my thoughts on the film onto the blog, I’d have reached my conclusion on whether I hate or love this movie. But, much like many a relationship on Facebook: it’s complicated. Even now, I don’t know if I like or dislike this movie. I had enough fun that I can say it wasn’t a waste of my time and life, and I had enough complaints to see that it wasn’t great.
I guess all I can do is wait for the future. Since Venom was a huge success in the box office, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a sequel, especially since they teased Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady AKA Carnage (which will be interesting to say the least). Maybe they’ll conquer the flaws of the first and make a truly great movie, and I can say that this one was a worthwhile stepping stone to get there.
Or maybe it will be even worse, and I’ll look back on the first one as a great big missed opportunity. As I do with so many movie franchises nowadays. But hey, even if they do screw it up…
At least we’ve still got Tom Holland.