Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Venom

By Sati. Wednesday, October 10, 2018 , , , , , , ,

Well, what do you know? The turd in the wind turns out to be the breath of fresh air.

The CBM landscape is starting to become really boring these days. We have MCU which at 20+ films following more of less of the same formula and the crutch of being owned by Disney - is Ryan Reynolds continuously praying to Mouse that they let him do his R-rated Deadpool thing? - seems to be nearing running its course. With the era of the heroes we loved coming to and end, betting all on Brie Larson seems like a risky thing to do.

On another hand we have DCEU - the laughing stock of the CBM universe. As much and as often Sony and Fox fail no failure has been as spectacular as Justice League flopping in every way imaginable, and so publicly too. The only interesting things WB have are Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

So on one hand we have MCU rushing towards renaissance - in which I am frankly not very interested - and on another we have DCEU tying to learn from its mistakes while wasting people's time and wearing my patience thin.

In comes something new. And something else that starts with N - nostalgia.

Remember the time before MCU and before WB tried to copy them? And before Fox was doing whatever the fuck it is they are doing? We had CBMs of all shapes and sizes. We had good ones like Blade, laughable ones like Daredevil, films that are cult classics today - Constantine and undisputed great films like Nolan's Batman trilogy.

Slowly we have started moving towards that direction again - with R rated Deadpool as the gory one and Logan as acclaimed one. But where's the ridiculous? Where's the trashy? Where's silly? Yes, we did have F4ntastic but it was also something that CBM has never any right to be - boring.

Enter Venom.

Venom doesn't have a good script. Hell, it doesn't even have a coherent script. It doesn't have memorable music, it doesn't have good cinematography (in spite of being shot by Matthew Libatique who shot both films at the top of American box office this week), it doesn't have interesting supporting characters, standout action or state of the art CGI. And it does have quite sluggish first 30 minutes.

But Venom is two things that in one way or another every movie should be - entertaining and rewatchable. And it has something no other CBM has. And that's Tom Hardy in the leading role.

There's a scene in Venom  involving lobster tank that is so impossibly insane you cannot believe what you are watching but you're having fun. It's a scene even more crazy than basketball nightmare of a sequence in Catwoman and Affleck stalking Garner and them fighting in the playground ridiculously in Daredevil EXCEPT that scene doesn't insult the character like these two did and thanks to Hardy's sympathetic and charming performance you aren't laughing at him, just at the situation. It's a scene that could never happened with this amount of wacky energy in MCU and would somehow become butchered in DCEU, as almost always is the case there.

Hardy's performance is the funniest thing he has ever done. It's like he has found his inner Nic Cage but that Nic Cage is crossed with an adorable puppy - Eddie does some bad things but you instantly like him and amazingly you instantly like the alien symbiote (voiced by Hardy) too. Even with bad script and cheesy lines Hardy's performance - as charismatic and magnetic as we are used to but way funnier and goofy than we have ever seen him (it did remind me of Chris O'Dowd in IT Crowd whenever Hardy's voice got high) - completely carries the film.

Does he - and us - deserve that performance to be surrounded by better material? Of course. But comparing this against to other CBMs out there - such as coma-inducing Man of Steel, dull and messy Homecoming (do you remember anything form this one?) and incredible but ultimately heartbreaking Logan - Venom is a piece of pure schlock entertainment with Hardy screaming 'shit' so many times the Mouse could never stand it.

I think it works so well because we all like this guy so much. We saw him over the years play so many intense characters, it's refreshing and delightful to see him as a guy who is kinda a loser (Bane would never!) and who shouts like a girl (as opposed to growling Alfie Solomons or his downright feral character in Taboo). Hardy surprises and delights.

While I have no problem with critics giving this film rotten reviews - even though I would never rate anything that entertaining below 6 - the comparisons to thoroughly butchered Suicide Squad (Venom is not so clearly botched in post production), Catwoman (forgettable on every level including main heroine) and F4ntastic (boring) are laughable, same as exaggerated claims of this being The Room of CBM. Give Sony a bit more money and re-arrange the first act? You would feel like it's MCU just with truly inspired lead performance. Then came another wave of righteous indignation - the nerds, whining about Spiderman not being here. Well, I for one don't care.

Let me make something very clear  - this idea Sony has about the universe of Spiderman villains without Spiderman is desperate. They are still inept and awful studio. But they lucked out here with Hardy as much as WB lucked out with Gal Gadot - performance so charming and fun whatever shortcomings the film had you instantly forgive them. Venom also has something I really liked - Reid Scott (who plays such a douchebag so convincingly on Veep) plays the new boyfriend of Eddie's ex (Michelle Williams). And he is a nice guy! Usually this type of character is an asshole. But I have to mention this - the film breaks the glorious tradition of male leads in CBM being shirtless. How dare they?!

In the mid-credits scene the great Woody Harrelson shows up, wearing a wig so spectacularly awful it has to be witnessed and he teases the antagonist in the future films. And I for one am thrilled, that given the fantastic box office results, those future films are happening.

66/100 (disappointed Harley on the left really doesn't apply though, because I thought it's gonna be dreadful)
Venom (USA, 2018)
Plot: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego "Venom" to save his life.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Stars: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

16 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm looking forward to having fun with this. I'm glad it's not as bad as most people are saying.

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    1. It's not good either but Hardy is just sooooo entertaining!

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  2. Replies
    1. Harrelson is there only for 30 seconds but it's incredible lol

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  3. Great review. You always put so much into your posts and I like that.

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  4. So much yes! I can't believe I nearly skipped this in favour of Johnny English. It had every right to be terrible but it's one of the few movies this year that I wanted to go back and watch again straight away!
    It was silly, the plot didn't make sense sometimes but it was memorable for the right reasons!

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    1. Yeah it was so entertaining! I already saw it twice :)

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  5. Nice review, Sati. I can dig people really digging on this movie, even if it didn't do too much for me personally. If I had seen it about 10 years ago or so though, I feel like I woulda been all over this thing. I need to stop getting too old for this shit, lol. :P

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    1. Eh I love silly fun like that, especially when it involves Hardy :)

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  6. Awesome review! I totally agree about the variety of comic book movies. We used to have so many different versions from genuinely bad to so-bad-it's-good, and everything in between. Marvel's figured out their formula but it doesn't allow a lot of room for anything too different. DC....still figuring it out, so I give props to Sony for just going for it. Hardy really makes the movie worth it!

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    1. Thank you! I really hope Hardy and Harrelson and his wig return for the sequel, otherwise there is no point in making one :)

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  7. Yes yes yes!!! So many good points Sati - especially the rewatchable part. I saw it three times! Even with the dodgy CGI it was so good.

    And it took we a while to recognise Woody with the hilarious wig!! Can't wait for the next film, and this is from someone who hates Marvel shit, much like you said at the top

    I've got my review scheduled to post in a few hours, would love to hear your honest thoughts! And I mean honest, tell me what you think is wrong and right :P I really like constructive criticism =]

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    1. And you come to me for constructive criticism? That's a bad choice :)

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  8. I mean, as far as movies go, Venom is definitely not the best compared to greats, but it stands on its own and it does so with pure delight. Hardy was so fun to watch and I'd watch it again and again just for his performance. Everything else, like you said, was not good but there was a lot of potential for it to be better.

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    1. Yeah it was at least fun and memorable thanks to his performance. I don't remember most of the things in other CBMs released lately

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