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Laramie Movie Scope: Venom

A really dark sort of superhero

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 10, 2018 – Here is another dark superhero, like Batman, only darker. He doesn't just kill villains, he eats them. He's sort of a schizophrenic cannibal superhero. Crooks fear Batman. Crooks are terrified of Venom.

Venom reminds me of a couple of funny lines from two other movies. In “The Host” a person who is possessed by an alien talks about “being of two minds,” the best joke in that movie. In “True Lies” the hero reveals to his wife that he is a spy and he has killed people, then adds the ridiculous qualifier, “but they were all bad.”

In Venom, journalist Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy of “Dunkirk”) is possessed by Venom, a powerful alien entity who can control his body, transforming him into a powerful killing machine with lots of big sharp teeth and a ridiculously long, narrow tongue. Venom also communicates with him through thoughts and actions. Even though Brock/Venom kills and eats people in the movie, a lot of the film takes on the tone of an action comedy. Venom has a sardonic sense of humor.

Eddie Brock is a journalist with a habit of taking chances and getting himself into trouble. One day he gets into triple trouble by breaking into his lawyer girlfriend's computer in order to find sensitive material which he uses to ambush tech billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) during an interview. Brock had been told to go easy on Drake by his boss. He not only loses his job, but his girlfriend (Anne Weying, played by Michelle Williams of “The Greatest Showman”) loses her job too. She leaves him.

Drake is another guy who likes to take chances. He orders human experiments with alien organisms brought back from a space expedition. The organisms can't exist in an oxygen rich environment unless they merge with a host animal. Brock manages to sneak into the facility where the aliens are kept, and there the creature known as Venom enters his body.

Drake has no idea what is happening to him. He starts hearing voices in his head and can't eat normal food anymore. He calls the creature inside him a parasite, but Venom doesn't like that. He prefers the term “symbiote.” Venom describes himself as a loser, an outcast from his own kind, with much in common with his host, Brock, who is also a loser

Biologically, there is really no explanation for how Venom can simply disappear into the body of a very small animal, then puff himself up to be this giant creature. It is more like magic than science. The whole idea of Venom turning against his own kind is a bit hard to swallow, but this is an outrageous science fiction story anyway, so what's the point of quibbling?

Venom and Brock, two losers, combine to form a superhero ready to save the world from Drake, who by now has been taken over by Riot, the leader of the alien scouts. Riot's plan is to use Drake's body and his company's spaceship, to go fetch millions more aliens in order to take over the world.

Brock looks fairly normal most of the time, until he suddenly turns into a giant, black, shiny, deadly alien with big teeth. Venom seems to have few vulnerabilities, except for fire and certain high frequency sounds. The rest of this time, he's bulletproof, has incredible strength and can turn into a variety of useful shapes, with long, stretchy arms.

The question of who is in charge of this dual purpose body with two minds, alien and human seems to be an open one. Most of the time, Brock is in control, but Venom can also take over. It is a committee of two. It is odd that Venom can access Brock's memories, but Brock doesn't seem to know anything about Venom's past.

As the movie goes along, Brock and Venom form an alliance and come to agreements about how to get along, like only eating people who are bad. The movie is aided by having top notch acting talent like Hardy and Williams. There is also plenty of action and humor in this film. It is hard to get past the cannibalism and the human butchery factor in the plot however. The formulaic genre story has its problems, but overall, it is an entertaining movie. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2018 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]