Describe This Movie In One Wedding Singer Quote:
JULIA: Not porno tongue. Church tongue.
ROBBIE: "Church tongue:" I like that.
Brief Plot Synopsis: He's a disgruntled alien symbiote, and he's a down-on-his-luck human. They fight
Rating Using Random Objects Relevent To The Film: 2.5 Mathilda Mays from Lifeforce out of 5.
Better Tagline: "Come for an unhinged Tom Hardy, stay for hints of a sequel the movie has yet to earn."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Through every fault of his own, reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) finds himself unemployed — after a confrontational interview with visionary inventor and Life Foundation founder Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) — and single, thanks to sneaking a look at lawyer girlfriend Anne's (Michelle Williams) confidential foundation-related emails. A series of unhappy accidents exposes Brock to a symbiote brought back from one of Drake's space probes that calls itself Venom. The good news is, Venom gives Brock a super strength and a variety of abilities. The bad? Venom's not the only symbiote out there, and the others have less than charitable intentions towards the rest of humanity.
"Critical" Analysis: There are three likely schools of thought explaining the existence of a standalone Venom movie.
The first posits the character of Spider-Man is so universally beloved that fans will attend a wall crawler-adjacent film he's not even in. The second supports Sony's apparent belief that Tom Hardy playing a ghoulish thyroid case with Gene Simmons' tongue is enough of a four-quadrant draw to to pull in even non-Spidey fans. Finally, that there are probably people out there dumb enough to believe this is a Dark Knight Rises sequel.
Nothing about Venom should work. A "shared Spider-verse" film starring one of Spider-Man's biggest enemies yet not mentioning Spider-Man at all sounds exactly like the kind of Hail Mary rights grab that led to two movies with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. A Venom movie was proposed as far back as 1997 (well before Topher Grace played him in the less said about the better Spider-Man 3), and comes along well past the character's '90s heyday, when a kind of mass insanity convinced millions of people to buy comics about drooling, verbally abusive aliens and/or written by Rob Liefeld.
Expectations for this are so low, anything exceeding them feels like a win. And despite obvious defects (sending the abrasive muckraker to interview a megalomaniac is some good journalism, Lou), Venom isn't a complete failure. Hardy losing his job, relationship, and apartment all in the same day means the first half of the movie plays less like a "superhero" movie and more like a Stripes remake with a burlier John Winger. Meanwhile, Ahmed's Drake is Elon Musk if the latter practiced ethnic cleansing instead of smoking pot.*
Hardy, Ahmed, and Williams are all bringing their A game to what is (charitably) a B-movie. They, along with director Ruben Fliescher, whose heavy-on-the-TV resume (Superstore, Santa Clarita Diet) seems unsuitable for a supervillain film, are doing their level best to make you forget the titular character is a monster resembling Miley Cyrus by way of Hieronymous Bosch that calls its host a "pussy."
Without doing any research to back this statement up, Venom also has to be the hardest PG-13 superhero movie to date. While possessed by the symbiote, Brock kills dozens of cops (albeit bloodlessly) and the characters swear almost as much as Deadpool. Venom's a real asshole, besides, and the scenes in which Hardy is attempting to come to grips with the presence of his new hetero(?) lifemate are among the best in the movie.
Dedicating a large portion of the film to Hardy's increasingly bugged out performance and keeping the goofy-ass monster off screen until the second half also separates Venom from other superhero efforts, for better (less formulaic, more actor-driven) and worse (dropping the comics origin means there's no explanation for why an alien happens to looks like evil Spider-Man).
It's too much of a stretch to say Venom is "good," but it's certainly not terrible, and maybe worth seeing for Hardy alone. It's never going to be ranked alongside the best of the genre, but as an example of how to tweak the mainstream comic book movie, it really can't be licked.**
Is There A Post-Credits Scene? There's a mid-credits scene (which appears to reinforce the theory Venom's for hardcore Spider aficionados) *and* and a post-credits scene that's not so much a stinger (heh) as it is an extended look into another part of the Spiderverse.