As the bar for super hero films continues to rise, "Venom" finds itself woefully out of step. (Illustration by Ben Miller, Towson University)
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As the bar for super hero films continues to rise, "Venom" finds itself woefully out of step. (Illustration by Ben Miller, Towson University)

Sony’s foray into the Marvel universe is predictably formulaic.

Last week, “Venom” made its way to theaters, opening with an October box office record of $80.3 million, ahead of Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born.” Despite the outstanding performance in the box office, however, reviews of the film haven’t been the greatest. However, despite “Venom” netting only a 30 percent rating on the Tomato meter, audiences seem to be enjoying the Marvel anti-hero film.

With an all-star cast of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate, it’s difficult to say why the movie is receiving such harsh reviews. But at the same time, these roles seemed to be a little below their pay-grade. Let’s just say “Venom” is the quintessential wanna-be action movie with a bit of humor.

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The movie first starts out in Malaysia, where a rocket crashes. The rocket contains four samples of lifeforms from other habitable planets and belongs to the Life Foundation, a biological engineering company researching for the future. Three of the four samples are then recovered and sent to San Francisco, where the Life Foundation is headquartered and where the rest of the film takes place. Interestingly enough, however, one sample still lingers in Malaysia. At the crash scene, the Life Foundation recovers a body, a man who shocks everyone by being alive, which was only possible due to his exposure to the life form. As a medic tends to the one survivor, she ends up absorbing the life form in her system.

The symbiotic life form is has qualities similar to a virus; it needs a host to survive, and it can be passed on. Each life form has different capabilities, and even different personalities when it impacts a person. The medic goes back into the main town square, with the life form living inside her. After killing most of the townspeople there, she ends up passing it on to another person, this time an older woman.

Director Ruben Fleischer portrays Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as the villain; however, he is more so a victim. The movie then goes on to introduce investigative journalist Eddie Brock as he is on a quest to find uncover the next truth. He soon decides to take down the big bad biology monster, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), of the Life Foundation, after finding a classified document about human trials that could bring down Drake once and for all. But he faces the decision of whether he wants to risk the career of his girlfriend, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), or not, as she is an attorney working on a lawsuit case against The Life Foundation.

He ends up confronting Drake about the human trials, which leads to him getting fired for asking too many questions and getting dumped by Anne for risking her career and reading the classified document. He loses everything he has.

The movie then jumps six months forward and finds Brock once again involved with The Life Foundation. One of its scientists, Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), finds Brock in a grocery store and raises concerns about Carlton’s plans. Skirth and Brock work together to gain more evidence, but once they end up in the lab, Brock accidentally exposes himself to a symbiotic life form. His name was Venom, and the rest is history.

As Brock and Venom get to know each other more, they see similarities between their personalities and goals. They both classify each other as “losers” and want to take down Carlton Drake. Drake’s men are hunting for Brock, because he is the only person in the human trials who hasn’t been harmed by having the life form in his system. After multiple attempts to catch Brock though, Drake’s men are unable to capture him.

Brock’s ex-girlfriend, Anne, comes back into the picture when she sees Brock turning out of Venom. She decides to help him get Venom out of his system, a difficult feat that she accomplishes. But she soon realizes that Brock and Venom have such a dependent friendship that it would be hard to watch him live without Venom.

Meanwhile, the lost symbiote from Malaysia makes its way to San Francisco, and soon inhabits Drake. The symbiote life form that inhabits Drake is known as Riot, Venom’s so-called enemy. Drake and Riot share the common vision of wanting to let these symbiotes inhabit humans on Earth. They plan to launch another rocket to Riot’s home, where they will take more samples and bring them back to Earth for inhabitation.

Brock and Venom bond together again to help take down Drake and Riot. After an epic fight scene, Brock and Venom take down Riot and Drake, and are able to stop the rocket from reaching the atmosphere. The film ends with Brock and Anne reflecting about Venom and everything that happened.

VENOM - Official Trailer 2 (HD)

Personally, I enjoyed the film, but I understand why it got the negative reviews it did. Compared to other superhero action films released in the past few years, “Venom” doesn’t really stack up. Although it offered what most good superhero action films have, such as mild humor and intense visual effect fight scenes, they weren’t up to par with other great action films.

Most of the time when a superhero movie is produced by a company other than Marvel Studios or Warner Brothers, it’s kind of a tell that it may not be the best, especially when it comes to special effects or accurate storytelling

In addition, the lost symbiote in Malaysia was unnecessary; it deviated from the main story and added nothing interesting. It essentially delayed what was bound to happen. Although director Ruben Fleischer did try to stay true to the comics, it clearly wasn’t enough.

Venom is a “PAM”: a predictable action movie. It’s one of those movies you could keep playing in the background, jump into halfway and still understand exactly everything that’s happening. It’s a movie that 10 years ago would have done well in the box office. It’s a movie that represents what the film industry used to be like, but one that’s woefully stale in 2018.


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