Sunday, October 21, 2018

REVIEW: Venom (live action movie)

Venom is yet another movie based on a comic book character.

Even I'm a bit tired of comic book adaptations by now, and the one trailer I remembered seeing of this movie didn't excite me. I've never read a Venom comic book and had no particular interest in or attachment to the character. I figured I'd skip this movie, but then I saw a few people on Twitter talking about how much they loved Eddie and Venom together. Once again, fan art managed to suck me in. And in this case, I'm glad about that. The movie turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable once Venom was finally introduced.

The basic story: Eddie Brock is an investigative reporter who's assigned to interview Carlton Drake, the movie's Elon Musk-like character. Although this is supposed to just be a puff piece, Eddie can't help but poke around a bit. He ends up getting himself fired, and his actions also lead to his fiancee dumping him. A few months later, however, one of Drake's employees comes to Eddie with information about Drake's secret and highly unethical project involving alien parasites. Bear with the first part of the movie, because this is where the fun begins.

I wish the first part of the movie, dealing with Eddie's backstory, had been about half as short as it was. I had zero patience for Eddie and his girlfriend drama - in fact, I'm to the point of wishing that all future comic book adaptations starring dudes include no girlfriends or girlfriend drama. Let the guys be happily single, at least in their first movie. Although I liked that Anne didn't need to be saved at any point in the movie, she was incredibly bland. Also, her and Eddie's kissing scene made me cringe hard, and not just because of Venom's involvement.

But the weird buddy comedy that was Eddie and Venom more than made up for the weak beginning and the less-than-stellar Eddie and Anne scenes. I don't know if it was supposed to be funny, but Eddie's first real glimpse of Venom while he was in his bathroom had me and several other moviegoers laughing, and I generally loved Eddie and Venom's conversations (banter?). This could easily have been a dark movie about a journalist tortured by the knowledge that he's been infected by a parasite that could eat anyone around him. Instead, viewers were given a surprisingly funny sci-fi version of the "unwilling roomies/partners who become buddies" cliche.

I enjoyed this a lot, but I feel like I should add that it's necessary to have a certain amount of tolerance for casual violence - it reminded me of Deadpool in this respect, only without the gleeful gore. Eddie only seemed to be upset when Venom ate his victims (and even then, he wasn't upset for long), but there were several scenes where a lot more people probably died than just the ones Venom ate. Most of the police officers in one particular fight scene probably either died or ended up in an intensive care unit, for example.

I did have a few issues with the post-Venom introduction stuff. I was a little surprised at how weak the big battle with Riot felt. The first big action sequence, the motorcycle chase, was a lot more fun. And the details about Venom's abilities and nutritional requirements were a bit fuzzy (did Venom need occasional live food or just like it?). I didn't really need to know about that stuff, but I wondered a bit.

All in all, though, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected I would. And since it's part of Sony's new Marvel Universe, rather than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I didn't have to work around all the holes in my knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (And can I say that I hate that navigating comic book movies is about as complicated as navigating the comics themselves?)

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