The superhero-comic book genre is an ever evolving universe. Can a superhero coexist at the same time with his alter ego? Can a super villain be given the playing field to reform himself in being a superhero? Can there be "two" characters in one superhero?
This post is aimed at answering the above questions with a brief review of "Venom".
Who is Venom?
Venom is a half alien and half human character combination of investigative reporter Eddie Brock and an Alien called Venom who is in a liquid form and needs a human host to survive on Earth. Eddie is the host for Venom. Venom who controls Eddie's body, controls his brain too and speaks to him frequently while residing in his body and takes his full form when there is a need to do so ie.....a situation where his superpowers are needed.
Now the interesting thing about Venom who was created from an idea by Randy Schueler in 1984 is that in the comic books, he has entered the bodies of Spider Man and half a dozen other characters in Marvel comics as he keeps changing his host. He is largely evil but when he enters Eddie Brock, he reforms and turns his evil thinking to positive and constructive use. In some ways, Venom is like a nymphet who has bedded many alter egos! But this film is Venom's solo outing and that makes it even more special for all readers of the comic books.
The Plot :
Set in the present times in San Francisco, the film sets its plot in motion when an Alien species attacks the city and takes the shape of a local beat cop looking for fellow Aliens who are already present on Earth. In addition, local business tycoon Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed) and his company Life Corporation is building next generation solutions for the evolution of the human race. They have imported some of these aliens known as Symbiotes who are similar to the ones who have attacked the city and are using beggars as guinea pigs to see if the Symbiotes can mate with the humans. Investigative reporter (Eddie Brock) who is following Drake and his activities is tipped by a scientist to go and look at his lab. Eddie reaches there and by accident encounters Venom who enters his body. Following this, mayhem ensues as Eddie and Venom try to co exist in one body. Drake is then held hostage by a rival Symbiote known as Riot and plans to board his rocket to his home planet to bring more of his species to earth. The fate of the Earth is then decided between Venom and Riot. Eddie also finds time to romance and lose Dr Anne Weying as well when all this madness is happening.
The Uniqueness Of Venom:
As a character, Venom is the most fascinating as he has multiple shades and keeps changing his hosts. I mean when was the last time you have seen Clarke Kent prompting Superman on what to do while Superman is beating up the bad guys. Venom is possibly the only super villain who has evolved into a super hero just because he believes in his host Eddie Brock. There are multiple conversations between Eddie and Venom where the viewer is engaged. For example, in one scene Eddie and Venom are deciding whether to kill a burglar or not while the burglary is on.... In addition, Venom is seen taking the shape of Anne to reach Eddie. The writers have given the "forced split personality" to Venom so that he has a wider canvas than other superheroes. Actor Tom Hardy is best suited for this role.
This could have been a cult classic given the origins of the superhero. Somehow, the film's director goofed up in the casting process. For example, Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed seems to be a minnow super villain. He has a great screen presence but does not exude the evil, the authority of someone aiming to change the human race. There is also a confused tone for Venom, as in his evolution from a blood hungry alien to a humane superhero just happens in a jiffy. I mean how can you take such a quantum leap without much depth into why a super villain would become a hero. That was a bummer and frankly ruined the character arc of the protagonist. The special effects are cool but Venom does not have any exciting superpowers as well. I think the writers should have thought about it. To succeed as a Superhero, Venom has to do something outrageously different to keep up with the Avengers and its members.
The Final Verdict:
Venom is a one time watch provided you are not expecting any thrills of the level of Avengers or Justice League. It has a superb central character but his surroundings and fellow characters fail to keep up with him. Having said that, the film delivers a few punches especially in the conversations between Venom and Eddie. The rest of the movie is just average.