I’m seeing Venom: Let There Be Carnage tomorrow. I can’t wait. Three years ago, I was dragged to my local cinema to see this, the first entry, with my longtime comic book fan of an uncle. And I had no idea what to expect. I’d heard of Venom but hadn’t seen any trailers, and I knew as much about the character as most third graders would know about balancing chequebooks.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative reporter with his own news block in San Francisco, and one day he ends up assigned to do a broadcast on the Life Foundation. His girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams) is coincidentally a lawyer preparing to defend Life for some sort of mistreatment. Eddie sneaks onto her computer to find classified documents, and confronting CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) about the names listed on said documents leads him to be terminated from his job, as well as Anne, and they break up. Eddie ends up unemployable, courtesy of Mr. Drake, and he ends up in a very sad apartment with a very loud rockstar neighbour.
But one day Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) comes up to Eddie and reveals herself as a Life employee. He swears her off at first but convinces him this would be both payback and the right thing to do. She reveals there were four strange gooey lifeforms Life is calling symbiotes who made their way onto Earth. Three of them were detained but one slithered away. And it turns out these symbiotes cannot survive on Earth without an oxygen-breathing carrier, and when Eddie is led in to expose Drake’s operation, one of the specimens latches onto Eddie, revealing himself as Venom, and that their species are out to destroy his home planet. Venom’s only instructions to Eddie are to cooperate, and he just might survive.
There are several reasons why I loved Venom so much. One is as a journalist, I saw a real hero in Eddie just for being willing to go the extra mile to be the sort of investigative media persona people look up to to keep the corrupt in check. I felt truly upset for him when Ahmed’s character tore everything away. The second reason has to do with what happens to Eddie too. It was a movie that had an understanding of people down on their luck, barely making ends meet, trapped either because of a known bad reputation, not being given a chance to work up the ladder, an abusive family or an even more abusive shelter system. Throughout Venom and all the riotously entertaining mayhem, I felt happy the movie was taking extra steps to say low income neighbourhoods matter too.
I also liked how there were some conventions that were shifted. Eddie’s ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Dan (Reid Scott) is actually a great guy, even and maybe especially around Eddie. In arguably the film’s best scene, he does his best to help Eddie heal from whatever’s wrong with him and get him healthy again, regardless of him disrupting a date between him and Anne, something most guys would find simply disruptive and threatening. I couldn’t tell you how refreshing his character is. What scene am I talking about? Let’s just say you haven’t lived until you see Eddie take a very unsanitary bath in a giant lobster tank, terrorizing a restaurant like a bull on crack.
The romance between Eddie and Anne was a high point too, turning from a legit relationship to not being on speaking terms to understanding one another. Now, if you’ve been following my reviews, you probably know I don’t give many A+ grades. So what makes Venom of all movies so special? Yes, it’s not going to tear out your heart and piece it back like The Shawshank Redemption. It wasn’t making a grand statement like Thelma & Louise. It wasn’t even aiming to be a huge new chapter in a cinematic universe like Captain America: Civil War. But it was meant to show Spider-Man’s evil twin has a little bit of fun attitude that hadn’t had a chance yet to really bite into the cinema. I laughed out loud numerous times. Venom’s sense of humour seemed so out of place for a monstrous parasite like him at first glance. He looks and sounds like a demon after smoking five packs straight. But because you don’t expect him to laugh and crack one-liners, when he does, you can’t help but love it.
This feels wrong to type out to my subscribers, but whenever Venom himself is on screen, he is so well designed in his moist muscles and glaring grin that he ends up terrifyingly sexy.
Three years ago, Venom was my second favourite movie of the entire year, behind a tie with The Death Cure and Love, Simon, because that was how much harmless fun it was. No one I personally know who’s seen this movie has had anything bad to say, really. It’s a superhero/supervillain film that managed to score my highest grade because I laughed, I was awed, it was slyly naughty, which fits for a villain movie, it was surprisingly cute, even more surprisingly sweet, it resonated with me in terms of the subject matter of journalism, Venom and Eddie have pitch perfect chemistry, and I was entertained all the way through. Not giving an A+ would send the message something important was missing or nonsensical. And there just wasn’t.