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Venom

by JC Alvarez
Friday Oct 5, 2018
'Venom'
'Venom'  

We have enough superheroes.

That's the tag line blazed across the poster art promoting Sony's newest blockbuster of the season, "Venom," starring Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams and based on the Marvel Comics anti-hero that has often been a thorn in the side of arguably the world's most popular superhero: Spider-Man. Venom was first fully realized in the late '80s and introduced in the milestone 300th issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic, becoming an overnight sensation in an era where genre-enthusiasts were hungry for complex characterizations. Goody-good crimefighters just weren't cool anymore!

Hard-hitting street reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) is often chasing after the grittiest and most sensational stories plaguing San Francisco's inner city communities, and pulling the covers off of political corruption. He doesn't flinch when it comes to diving into the dirt to reveal the truth. When his love interest Anne (Williams), a lawyer, finds herself defending futurist and industrial phenom Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed), Eddie can't help but stick his nose into her private emails in order to rip the roof off of recent accusations against Drake, who may be conducting dangerous experiments on human test subjects.

Drake, in fact, is behind a recent privately funded space mission that comes crashing back to Earth, and the millionaire scientist appears more concerned about the ship's cargo than the welfare of its crew. Something was onboard that space craft, and it's gotten loose! In the meantime, Drake has discovered an alien organism, which he calls a symbiote. It assumes control of its host and, unless it can genetically graft, the parasite consumes its human partner. This leads Drake to recruit candidates from the city's homeless population, drawing the inquisitive eye of Eddie Brock. Trying to bring down Drake costs Eddie his show, his career, and his girl.

When one of Drake's associates decides to turn against the mad scientist, she brings Eddie into the lab hoping the reporter, now down on his luck, can turn things around by exposing Drake and his dastardly deeds - but it all goes wrong! Eddie gets trapped inside the lab and is exposed to one of the symbiotes, who decides that Eddie is a perfect fit! It isn't long before the slippery creature latches onto Brock and causes all sorts of chaos as the pair make a break from Drake's fortress, leaving a trail of havoc in their wake. Eddie becomes the target of Drake's hired muscle, who want the symbiote returned.

During the course of the two-hour runtime of "Venom," the story follows the usual tropes established by the genre, though as this "origin story" unravels, it feels more like a monster movie as Eddie wrestles with this ravenous alter-ego. When Eddie and Venom work in tandem, the symbiote gives his human host super-strength, heightened speed and agility, and the ability to shape his inky exo-skeleton muscle suit into any shape they want — mostly sharp-edged appendages for slicing and dicing their enemies. Venom begins to adjust to his new "home" and reveals that there are thousands like him, ready to invade!

The urgency to stop Drake, who has by now bonded with his own symbiote (named "Riot"), reaches a fever pitch as the villain engages his plan to launch a shuttle into space and bring the rest of the extraterrestrial symbiotes to Earth. Although "Venom" doesn't sit within the expanded cinematic universe of the other Marvel Films, it will greatly appeal to the able follower. The sharper audience member would have hoped the filmmakers would have chosen to take liberties and push the genre in a generously more creative direction. "Venom" would have benefitted from a more adult-skewed rating, but settled for PG-13, which is somewhat castrating to the narrative.

This is actually the second outing for the Marvel Comics character, which made its big screen debut in the ill-fated "Spider-Man 3" when the franchise was headlined by Toby McQuire as the classic web-slinger. In that film, Venom (played by Topher Grace) was part of a trinity of adversaries meant to bring our hero down, and did they ever. "Spider-Man 3" didn't fare as well at the box office as its predecessors, and ultimately sank McGuire's future in the franchise; with mixed reviews and tepid audience reactions, the leading man was (re)booted — traded in for a younger, sleeker model, and "Venom" has been reimagined with Hardy in the driver seat.

Clearly Sony is hoping to hold on to their Marvel properties for as long as they can, after losing the main web-head to Marvel Studio. If you're expecting for any of the Avengers to swing as through the world of "Venom," you'll be disappointed; overall, the movie fails to keep to a consistent story, but is full of action and adventure, though the spectacle has become routine. Sadly, the internet is already buzzing with the theory that the best parts of "Venom" ended up on the cutting room floor, and perhaps that's true. This comic book villain come to life is still mostly lifeless, if not for the interesting take of its actors, but is what you really came to see is "Venom" — it's oozing all over.

Venom

Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake's experiments, Eddie's body merges with the alien Venom -- leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.

Info

Runtime :: 112 mins
Release Date :: Oct 05, 2018
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

Cast

Cletus Kasady :: Woody Harrelson
Mrs. Chen :: Peggy Lu
Eddie Brock/Venom :: Tom Hardy
Lewis Donate :: Malcolm Murray
Anne Weying :: Michelle Williams
Dr. Collins :: Sope Aluko
Carlton Drake/Riot :: Riz Ahmed
Dr. Emerson :: Wayne Péré
Security Chief Roland Treece :: Scott Haze
Dr. Dan Lewis :: Reid Scott
Malaysia EMT/Riot Host :: Michelle Lee
Mission Control Translator :: Kurt Yue
Dr. Dora Skirth :: Jenny Slate
Homeless Woman Maria :: Melora Walters
Cletus Kasady :: Woody Harrelson
Mrs. Chen :: Peggy Lu
Lewis Donate :: Malcolm Murray
Dr. Collins :: Sope Aluko
Dr. Emerson :: Wayne Péré
Malaysia EMT/Riot Host :: Michelle Lee
Mission Control Translator :: Kurt Yue

Crew

Director :: Ruben Fleischer
Screenwriter :: Jeff Pinkner
Screenwriter :: Scott Rosenberg
Screenwriter :: Kelly Marcel
Producer :: Avi Arad
Producer :: Matt Tolmach
Producer :: Amy Pascal
Executive Producer :: David Householter
Executive Producer :: Stan Lee
Executive Producer :: Kelly Marcel
Executive Producer :: Tom Hardy
Executive Producer :: Edward Cheng
Executive Producer :: Howard Chen
Cinematographer :: Matthew Libatique
Film Editor :: Maryann Brandon
Film Editor :: Alan Baumgarten
Original Music :: Ludwig Göransson
Production Design :: Oliver Scholl
Art Director :: Troy Sizemore
Art Director :: Greg Hooper
Art Director :: Drew Monahan
Set Decoration :: Larry Dias
Costume Designer :: Kelli Jones
Director :: Ruben Fleischer
Screenwriter :: Jeff Pinkner
Casting :: John Papsidera
Screenwriter :: Scott Rosenberg
Screenwriter :: Kelly Marcel
Producer :: Avi Arad
Producer :: Matt Tolmach
Producer :: Amy Pascal
Executive Producer :: David Householter
Executive Producer :: Stan Lee
Executive Producer :: Kelly Marcel
Executive Producer :: Tom Hardy
Executive Producer :: Edward Cheng
Executive Producer :: Howard Chen
Cinematographer :: Matthew Libatique
Film Editor :: Maryann Brandon
Film Editor :: Alan Baumgarten
Original Music :: Ludwig Göransson
Production Design :: Oliver Scholl
Art Director :: Troy Sizemore
Art Director :: Greg Hooper
Art Director :: Drew Monahan
Set Decoration :: Larry Dias
Costume Designer :: Kelli Jones
Casting :: John Papsidera


Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".


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