Despite Flaws, ‘Venom’ is still a Fun Film That Can Laugh at Itself

If you’ve ever seen the now cult-classic film The Room, then you’ll what I mean when I say sometimes a movie can be so bad it’s good. Utter nonsense on the screen can be just as funny as well-crafted punchlines every once in a while, sometimes even more so. Now, obviously, this humor is more rooted in schadenfreude than intentional humor, but it still makes for a fun ride nonetheless.

Venom is a bad movie. One might even say that it nearly crosses the line into putrid garbage. However, it is also one of the most fun experiences in the theater you will have all year. To be fair, it is more of a Mission: Impossible 2 type experience than a The Room type one (I would highly recommend watching both if you don’t follow), but you get the picture.

Despite all of this, as what seems to be the trend as of right now, Venom made a boatload of money in its opening weekend. It took home $80 million domestic in its first weekend, making it the highest opening weekend in October of all time, blowing second-place Gravity from 2013 out of the water by over $24 million. As of October 16th, its worldwide total has reached a staggering $385 million. This continues the trend of big blockbuster trash making hundreds of millions what seems like every year now, from Transformers to the Fast & Furious franchise.

The story revolves around journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who is trying to take down Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the brilliant yet notorious founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s shady experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Dark, twisted, and fueled by anger, Venom tries to control the dangerous new abilities that Eddie finds so invigorating.

So if it made all this money, and general audience members seemed to like it, what makes it so bad? The answer to this lies in the studio, the director, and the writers. The three big stars (Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed) were all fine (though it quite clearly wasn’t their best work). The script, on the other hand, can only be described as bizarre. It was almost as if the script was written by an alien who had only observed humans from afar, and then decided that they understood human conversation well enough to become a full-time screenwriter. The humor in the film is frankly peculiar at best, mainly relying on Brock’s relationship with the alien that has nestled in his brain. The two regularly converse, with most of the jokes coming from the fact that Venom wants to eat people and that no one else can hear Venom but Brock.

To go along with all of its script issues, Ruben Fleischer’s directing can only be described as cringe-worthy. About every 15 minutes there was an establishing shot of San Francisco, despite the fact that they were in the city the whole time. These shots were always paired with terrible, “epic” hip-hop and r&b songs that furthered the cringe to unparalleled levels. Let’s not forget, by the way, that the budget for this film was just over $100 million. With all that cash, Sony and Fleischer still couldn’t scrape together a coherent CGI fight scene (kind of essential for this film). They tried to hide the terrible CGI with frequent cuts and nauseating zooms during any altercations, but it was immediately apparent to any slightly watchful eye.

Despite all of its flaws — which heavily outweigh its virtues — the film doesn’t take itself seriously. This was the key for it being a fun ride. Everything about this film leading up to its release suggested a throwback to the uber-serious, even more cringe-worthy comic book films of the late 90s and early 2000s, While that was certainly the aesthetic they were going for, the attitude toward such an ambiance was much more relaxed and comical. Without this, the film would be thoroughly migraine-inducing, and instead it laughs at its own expense, otherwise one might storm out of the theater in anger for wasting of 10 hard-earned dollars.

Overall, Venom is a frankly terrible film, made by terrible screenwriter, a sub-par director, and woeful studio leadership. However, perhaps unintentionally, the film is a hilarious ride, and quite the theater-going experience. 2 stars out of 5.