By now you have read the scathing film reviews, seen the embarrassing low Rotten Tomatoes score, heard from Oscar-nominated actors Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams throw shade on the new film “Venom.”
What the heck is “Venom” anyway?
For those outside the comic book/superhero realm, Venom is a foe of Spider-Man who debuted in the comic books around 1984. Not his first appearance on film, despite many animated series, Topher Grace most notably played the lizard-like alien creature in 2007 flop Spider-Man 3.
Hollywood has decided villains, not just heroes, deserve their own solo origin stories. Suicide Squad started this trend, and next year Joaquin Phoenix will portray the Joker in a stand-alone origin story. While Marvel and Sony Pictures are interested in profit and action figure memorabilia regardless of how they achieve that, hiring two well-respected actors, Hardy (“Mad Max Fury Road”) and Williams (“The Greatest Showman”), might end up backfiring. Both acclaimed performers were on the offensive during the disastrous press tour that isn’t encouraging skeptics to buy a ticket.
What exactly is Venom about?
Eddie Brock (Hardy) is an edgy sleeve-tattoo wearing biker, with breadwinner girlfriend, Anne Weying (Williams), a top lawyer in San Francisco. Brock, fired from The Daily Globe, remade his life on the northern California coast as a snappy freelance journalist, going after controversial stories and ratings.
His latest unprofessional tactics with billionaire entrepreneur and engineer Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), results in the loss of his job, girlfriend, and in a way his free will. Brock is infected with Drake’s alien “parasite” he’s cultivating and testing on humans. It enables superhuman powers, not always used with the best intentions. Brock must steady this new physical being calling itself Venom before it destroys the city and everyone he cares about.
“I sometimes do what I want to do, but I also have to make decisions that take care of my family, Williams said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining why she took the role in ‘Venom.”
The actress isn’t the only one raising eyebrows while discussing or excusing her choice to appear in the big-budget film. Hardy went on the record saying his favorite 40-minutes of the movie were removed from the theatrical version. “The Dark Knight Rises” actor who isn’t a stranger to playing nasty and devious characters, admitted this one was for his son.
Director Ruben Fleischer has denied there is some secret R-rated version of “Venom” lying around. The PG-13 rating is part of what has people upset and critics piling on. The Venom character was always supposed to be this nasty, flesh-eating creature that, at least this version of the movie, is dumbed down for its 10-year-old target audience.
Honestly, the special effects are substandard compared to what we have grown accustomed to from the Marvel franchise. The plot plays out like a bad cartoon converted into live action with ridiculous dialogue that beneath the talent of the cast.
Speaking of cartoons, it’s was the 1994 debut of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, that most millennials grew up watching. If you weren’t into cartoons or old fashion comic books, which regularly featured the Venom character, there were trading cards, a brief collectible ritual before the internet ruined all that.
The tagline for the film reads “The world has enough Superheroes,” alluding to the fact Venom is and always has been a bad guy. Yet Venom is constantly saving innocent people, professing how much he likes Anne and allowing himself to be controlled by a human he just called inferior.
“I’m sorry about Venom,” Anne says in one scene where it appears Brock has rid himself of the creature for good. It’s as if Williams is delivering that line to the audience, apologizing for the garbage they have sat through.
With an eclectic filmography, Hardy within a short period has risen to one of the most in-demand versatile actors of his generation. Despite whether the box office lands in “Venom’s” favor, his intellectual and art house following might be better off skipping this one in fear of Hardy losing his reverence.