A paradox of review: anti-hero changes Hollywood
October 17, 2018
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Disclaimer: spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
In an age of superheroes, it’s a fresh breath to watch stories of villains and anti-heroes.
“Venom” was released in theatres on Oct 5 as a production of Sony in association with Marvel Studios. Though the film and its characters are straight from the Marvel comics, Marvel doesn’t actually own the rights to Venom, so the movie itself is not canonically parallel to the Marvel cinematic universe that follows the crossovered stories spanning from 2008’s “Iron Man” to “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Although our first look of Venom on the big-screen was “Spider-Man 3” back in 2007 and still featured Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, 2018’s “Venom” does not follow the same “origin” story from the older film.
The film follows investigative journalist Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy, and his need to prove the underground operations of human experimentation by Riz Ahmed’s Drake Carlton. Drake was using the experiments, as revealed to Eddie by Drake’s top scientist Dr. Dora Skirth, played by Jenny Slate, to use humans as host for alien specimens he dubbed “symbiotes” as a tool to prolong human life.
Drake believed that space exploration could expand human existence, as he sees the Earth as a rapidly diminishing planet. He theorizes that if alien specimens can survive in oxygen-rich environments with a human host, then those hosts can survive in space on a different planet.
Eddie accidentally “bonds” with one of the symbiotes, Venom, while trying to gather evidence for a potential exposé and he is one of the only people who successfully bonds with the alien as the previous hosts have died shortly after. Because of this, Drake sends out his men to capture Eddie but with Venom riding shotgun, Eddie makes his escape and eventually agrees on a deal with the symbiote.
Later on, Eddie finds out that hosting Venom was actually killing him and separates with him. In that time apart, Drake bonds with his own symbiote, Riot, and Venom reveals to Eddie that he would actually like to stay on Earth as back on his planet, he “was a loser too.”
By the end of the film, we have acknowledged that Venom, despite being more keen on the “bite heads off first, ask questions later” mentality than Eddie, is actually one of the better bad guys out there. He’s not the best, but he isn’t the worst either so we can safely classify the symbiote as an “anti-hero”. Venom doesn’t have all the shining attributes of a typical superhero but at the end of the day, he did save the world.
Critics find this movie disappointing, rating it a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes and claiming it was “chaotic and in desperate need of a stronger attachment to Spider-Man” but this isn’t a Spider-Man movie; it’s Eddie Brock’s, and thus Venom’s, origin film that is hinting to a sequel.
Despite its ties to Spider-Man, part of Sony and Marvel Studio’s deal when it came to Spider-Man’s rights was that Sony would financially back the Spidey reboot, but Marvel Studios would have creative control. Since Marvel Studios has the rights to Spider-Man for at least five more movies, that means that Sony cannot directly use the character in cinema but can greenlight movies about characters tied to the arachnid superhero so “Venom” was produced without a mention of Spider-Man in sight.
Foregoing critics’ reviews, I think it’s a fairly enjoyable film— it’s action-packed and has enough humor and character fulfillment to keep the audience engaged and entertained. It’s more light-hearted than it is dark so it’s actually a fun film to watch with the family, if you’re completely fine with the occasional use of swear words being thrown around.
The anti-hero the movie is titled after is also another interestingly great characteristic of the film. Venom is sarcastic and witty, and he and Eddie have this grudgingly-made friendship, in which Eddie constantly has to tell the symbiote currently inhabiting his body that biting people’s heads off is wrong and weird, save for the bad guys.
The set pieces and cinematography is another plus. One of the larger set pieces is that of a car chase around San Francisco. The action plays around Venom using Eddie’s body to fight while they race down on Eddie’s motorbike. It’s intense and fast-paced to the point when you don’t even know how many cars have crashed, but it’s captivating and hilariously entertaining to watch because of the quips thrown between Eddie and Venom, despite the latter being in the former’s head.
“Venom” was a fun movie and critics who disagree clearly don’t see the hilarity behind the action. Could it have been more story-focused than it was? Yes, but for what we were given, it wasn’t a bad film.