Hot Take: Proof you don’t need to be a good movie to find success at the box office.
If you were to ever peruse my comic book collection (Yes, I have a comic book collection somewhere.), you’d quickly realize Venom is my favorite comic book character. Notice I didn’t say superhero? Also, I’m on record about Tom Hardy being one of the most underrated performers in Hollywood. So, Venom starring Hardy as the titular character’s alter ego Eddie Brock should be a slam dunk no brainer for me, right? Well, not so much. The latest non-MCU Marvel film is yet another dumbed down, silly take on one of the more serious comic book characters you’ll find out there. It completely misses the tone and premise behind the tormented Brock and his anti-hero alter ego. There’s efforts made to portray the relationship and the effects are really cool (It erases away all of the mistakes made in 2007’s Spider-Man 3 with the character) but falls short of competency with its portrayal and effects only take you so far.
In Venom, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative journalist who targets the Life Foundation and it’s CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Using information he finds on his fiancee Anne’s (Michelle Williams) computer, Brock confronts Drake about his company’s lawsuits which leads to Brock being fired and Anne breaking up with him (after she loses her job, as well). Six months later, Brock is approached by scientist Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who clues him in on some things Life Foundation is doing in hopes Brock can expose Drake and the company. While snooping around, Brock is attacked by the symbiote which takes over his body thus becoming Venom.
The rest of the film seems like one endless chase with Life Foundation trying to recover the symbiote from Brock and Brock and Venom forming a bond. As the relationship gels, Hardy’s abilities shine despite the campy nature of the film. He pulls off the dual role as the physical embodiment and personality of Brock and the voice of Venom. However, the effort to humor the audience is overpowering and it’s more silly than scintillating though it does have it’s moments leading to an overall mediocre effort which falls short of what would be considered the least entertaining MCU films (I’m looking at you, Ant-Man and the Wasp!).
What’s startling is despite how poorly the film has been received critically, Venom has raked it in at the box office. Currently just over $207 million, Venom is #9 at the box office in 2018. It has the potential to move up to 6th though Deadpool 2‘s $318 million isn’t realistic. Only one other film in the box office top 10 (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at 48%) has a Rotten Tomatoes score below 70% and Venom has crated at 29%. Even though most would say critics don’t matter, it’s rare a film received so poorly has performed so well at the box office. Needless to say, we’re destined for an unnecessary sequel especially considering the way the film wraps up and the amount of fun both Hardy and Williams looked like they had in the main role. Apparently, audiences had fun, too. Just not this audience member. Okay, maybe a little.
No matter how bad the story is, Venom is a badass character and looks spectacular on screen. Plus, there’s a Stan Lee cameo. (RIP Stan Lee.)
This is the 6th comic book inspired film of the year. SIXTH!!!