I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, someone made a good Venom movie.  The bad news is, the one that got released isn’t it.  Despite two really solid first and second acts, Venom takes a big left turn in the final act and becomes way too happy for the character and the two thirds of the movie you’ve been watching.  By the end, it appears in such a rush to set up the next movie, it slaps together the final bit, ties it up way too neatly and ends almost as happy as the last Spiderman movie.

Tom Hardy’s performance is, as always, astoundingly good.  But like any actor, he’s limited by the script and the forces of editing.  Rumors abound that something as high as 40 minutes was cut out of this movie and that it was originally much more of a horror movie.  There are definitely elements of that, up until the third act.  Then it becomes a strictly bad guy vs. good guy confrontation.  All the carefully hinted at details are sort of abandoned then.  Riz Ahmed’s smart character, suddenly becomes in quite a rush to get the movie over with and I can’t explain any more without getting into the spoilers, so…


First Act:  Eddie Brock (Tom Hard), investigative reporter, has to interview Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed).  He doesn’t want to do a fluff piece.  His girlfriend, Anne (Michelle Williams) is a lawyer working for Drake’s company.  Brock slips a peep at her confidential files, which gives him the ammo to question Drake directly on his crimes.  Warned that doing that would put his career in jeopardy, he’s fired afterwards, as is Anne, who leaves him.  (They were going to get married.)  This first act is great, because Eddie’s downward spiral is of his OWN making.

Oh and the symbiots are brought back in a space ship which crashes.  One of the symbiots escapes, takes over a woman and spends the entire movie traveling to the others that get shipped to San Francisco.  Drake uses human subjects with the symbiots, who can’t survive without hosts.  They need perfect hosts however.  Some work and become stable, while others do not.  The symbiots also tend to eat the hosts to survive.

One of the scientists, unable to deal with the ethical implications of killing homeless people for the tests, turns to Brock for help.  Brock, at his lowest points, rejects her.  Brock, in turn, is rejected by his ex after making an attempt to win her back.  Embittered, he decides to go after Drake.

Second Act:  Brock breaks in with the help of the scientist and spots a homeless woman he knew well on the streets.  But when he breaks her free, she attacks him and the symbiot goes into Eddie.  Good scene because there’s plenty of motivation for Eddie to be there and get the symbiot.  Eddie flees and the symbiot helps him escape.

The second act is one big chase scene interspersed with his ex and her new doctor boyfriend trying to help Eddie.  A scene in a restaurant implies that Venom NEEDS TO EAT LIVE CREATURES to survive.  This is why are all the other hosts kept dying, however, that link is never full stated.  This, despite the fact, that Venom loudly announces his weakness to sonic attacks and flame.

Third Act:  It’s a bit mushy by the end of the second act.  Venom fights a bunch of cops attempting to hand the evidence of Drake’s crime to Eddie’s old newspaper.  Venom also makes some noise explaining the comet the symbiots were traveling on has millions of organisms poised to wipe out whatever poor planet they blunder into.  None of that really makes any sense, strictly because the comet would burn up on its way to the Earth, probably killing them all.

In addition, there was really no reason for Venom to fight the cops.  He could’ve just run.  And during his trip to the hospital with Anne, he has no reason to loudly announce all his weaknesses.  Especially since all he’s done throughout the movie is threaten Eddie and the Earth.  The level of power that Venom has vs. Eddie’s control over it, really isn’t explored in depth enough to make sense.  Perhaps this was some of what got cut out.

At the hospital, Anne zaps Venom with the MRI and separates him from Eddie.  Eddie is captured by the bad guys, but Venom escapes in a dog.  It’s Anne who eventually reunites them.  One problem: the movie established that anyone that had a symbiot would die if it was only temporary.  Anne is not the worse for wear.  It’s also established that Eddie will die without Venom, why?  “Your heart atrophied,” says Dr. Boyfriend.  Seems like Venom is killing him, but in the end Eddie keeps coming back.

Venom also makes an abrupt turn towards “good”, suddenly deciding he likes Earth and wants to live there.  There’s precious little justification for this.  The next thing you know, Venom is really to risk everything to stop the main bad guy, who is Riot.  The names also don’t jibe.  Unlike the comics, where the names came out of the symbiots interaction with Earth, the implication is that the names “Venom” and “Riot” were established prior.  Doesn’t make any sense.  Carlton Drake is such a genius, yet by the end he’s just murdering people and rushing to his own rocket for no reason.  Also, he’s taken in by the symbiot, who is clearly lying to him.

Venom and Riot duke it out which is a CGI mess, especially if you watch in 3D.  Venom says goodbye to Eddie, the implication being that he died, but then he just doesn’t.  Why the filmmakers would leave that line in is just bad and misleading.  The final-ish aftermath scene plays out like the end of a TV show.  (Tune in next week to see if Venom wins back his girl!)  Obligatory Stan Lee cameo and end.

The after credits scene isn’t great.  It’s not like Avengers, where the character would be known.  The Venom villain for next time is pretty low on the Marvel totem pole.  The celebrity cameo helped, but just barely.  Feels pretty tacked on.

Overall, the movie starts strong, lays a good foundation for the house.  Then in the second act, the skeleton for the house structure is a little shaky but competent.  The third act is someone trying to finish the house, while most of the construction workers are throwing hammers at each other.  You’re just like WTF happened there?  You were doing so well!

I have to, sadly, give Venom only a 6 out of 10 keggers.  Good set up, great chase, WTF ending.