“Oh, I have a parasite!” – A ‘Venom’ Review

The newest Marvel “superhero” film has just aired at our very own Commodore cinema – Ruben Fleischer’s interpretation of the comic book character, Venom. Now, some of you reading this might be familiar with other reviews of the film, including the damning Rotten Tomatoes score of 30%, but I shall attempt to convince you not to believe all that you might hear. The key to enjoying this film is to abandon any preconceptions you might have walking in. If you walk in expecting a Spiderman spin off or indeed, a superhero film typical of Marvel’s recent days, you’ll be disappointed. That would be because you’re about to sit in for the most violent, wild romantic comedy ever produced.

The film stars British actor Tom Hardy, known for his performances as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and both Kray brothers in Legend as Eddie Brock who we are told is a brilliant and passionate investigative journalist, but instead comes across repeatedly as a professional a**hole. Brock attempts throughout the movie to prove that a young genius, Carlton Drake – a charming billionaire with a god-complex that rivals Kanye West (correction, Ye) – is using vulnerable people as disposable test subjects to experiment with combining aliens and humans into a super-being capable of living in space. Brock throws his beautiful, intelligent fiancé (Michelle Williams) under the bus, as only a professional a**hole can, and accuses said powerful billionaire of murder with no evidence to his claims and is surprised when he loses his job and his lady. He then spends several minutes moping with some homeless people before being rebutted by former fiancé and her new boyfriend and restarts his investigation, breaking back into Drake’s complex to become infected by the sassy alien symbiote, Venom, with a taste for live lobster, rotting chicken and human heads. From here, the good half hour of the movie begins.

Eddie Brock starts off this alien rom-com as the practically unlovable former reporter, lost in his own self-pity but unable to take any responsibility for it. His dialogue is so slurred and basic, he seems himself a hybrid between a drunk and a toddler, although this was evident from the trailer. The funniest thing about his character is his constipated angry face which he pulls out at regular intervals. There is also some inconsistency of character in how, when he is infected with a superpowered alien he surrenders to every Tom, Dick and Harry that crosses his path by raising his arms and begging for his life then when alone, seems so heartbroken by the loss of bae that he immediately starts trying to beat up the bad guys.

Perhaps the best thing about Eddie is when he seemingly goes mad after Venom first takes over his body; rifling through bins and taking baths in lobster tanks in posh restaurants while simultaneously being relatively unconcerned by his sudden changes in behaviour. However, when confronted with new invasive boyfriend, his character does develop into something more bearable – even if just as Venom’s meat suit – becoming the oddest couple since Justin Timberlake and Fergie. By the end of the film, this strange relationship has grown into something that would not be amiss in a slightly more homoerotic buddy cop comedy. Perhaps next time they can add the humour before post production and the hilarious scenes would make more sense than the dark, serious acting combined with the disembodied voice of banter.

The title character in this instance is the saving grace of the film. It is strange as a viewer to relate to the alien parasite more than the human, but I indeed found myself repeatedly whispering to myself “same, Venom, same” at various points in the movie. The repetition of ‘HUNGRY’ as Venom’s predominant motivation in the film, I think is relatable to many struggling students, including myself. Venom is sassy, intelligent and oddly polite for having been part of an alien invasion force intent on consuming human kind and his awesomeness somehow redeems the dislikeable qualities of his host/boyfriend. Indeed, Venom’s character appears to transform into an immigrant trying to reinvent himself in a new place while seducing Tom Hardy to later have a threesome. The most bitterly disappointing thing was the shortness of the appearance of Venom Dog, a detail I shall leave as vague as possible, so you all go discover for yourself the wonderful possibilities of that moment.

Like most superhero films there were some inconsistencies in plot. A major part of the movie is that symbiotes (the aliens) can only last minutes in hosts that don’t match them (think organ transplant but if it goes wrong people’s organs explode) but one symbiote seems to be able to last months in whatever human subject it likes.  This mysterious symbiote after changing subjects three times in a couple of hours then decides to stay in the same body for the six months its off-screen because it obviously loved the old Malaysian woman aesthetic. Similarly, the apparent omniscience that the symbiotes have in being able to sense danger fluctuates between scenes like Eddie’s character, with Venom able to sense bad guys outside a door to being unable to sense a car about to hit them during a surprisingly good chase scene. Personally, I also would have also liked to see Venom eat more people but that’s just my own gory desires coming through.

To summarise, Venom is a funny, homoerotic romantic-comedy film made in post-production about two losers from two different worlds (quite literally) who discover happiness by being inside one another and having some secret banter. So basically, an action-packed, super-hero themed interpretation of Call Me by Your Name.