VENOM 4K Review: This Is The Best Ill-Advised Film Of The Year
Let's be very clear about one thing, right up front: Ruben Fleischer's Venom is not a good movie. The pacing's weird, there are plot holes big enough to drive a dump truck through, the performances are all over the map, the VFX are frequently a mess, the script alternates between tedious exposition dumps and utterly baffling plot developments, and the whole thing's not nearly as violent as it was clearly designed to be. I cannot, in good conscience, stand here and look you in the eye and say, "Venom is Good Actually."
But I will stand here all day telling you how entertaining it is. With the right attitude, all the ways in which Venom fails as a movie suddenly become selling points, and - with a group of likeminded individuals, a drink in your hand, and a big-ass television - Venom offers everything you might need for your next smartass social gathering. This is not a comparison I would make lightly, but: in terms of sheer ridiculousness and go-for-broke entertainment value, Venom is very much the XXX: Return of Xander Cage of 2018.
For anyone familiar with the property, it should come as no surprise that Venom would turn out to be ridiculous. More an edgy costume and a bunch of teeth than an actual character, Venom was introduced in the late '80s (in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man) before becoming something of a symbol for '90s comic book excess. That anyone would choose to build a movie around Venom is absurd. That they'd then choose to do it without also incorporating Spider-Man elevates the entire thing to Ill-Advised Cinema territory.
In other words: at no point was there any possibility that Venom wouldn't be silly as all fuck. The only real question was whether they could make such a thing watchable, fun, maybe even a little knowing. From where I'm standing, they absolutely succeeded.
By now, Venom has insinuated itself far enough into The Discourse that I probably don't need to spend a paragraph telling you what it's about. We can also probably skip the part where I lavish praise upon Tom Hardy's impressive physical performance (which, in its wackiest moments, comes very close to approximating Jim Carrey at his most eager to please). Need we delve into Venom's obvious similarities to Upgrade? The jaw-dropping mid-credits scene featuring Woody Harrelson in a Ronald McDonald wig? The incongruity of seeing Michelle goddamn Williams in a film like this? I think not. It's all been said before, and with more intelligence than I could ever hope to bring to the table.
I will instead use my time here to declare Venom the year's best ill-advised film.
This isn't to say that Venom's the most ill-advised film of 2018 (in my mind, that title still belongs to Gotti, though it's worth pointing out that I've not seen Life Itself yet, and that one's supposed to be a real humdinger), just that it succeeds as a piece of entertainment despite the foundational lunacy upon which it was built. This is a film where you get to see Tom Hardy hop into a lobster tank and eat its residents. This is a film that goes out of its way to show the audience that Venom loves tater tots on more than one occasion. For no particular reason! This is a film where the concept of a motorcycle chase through downtown San Francisco apparently wasn't enough, which necessitated adding of laser-guided fucking missiles to the sequence. This is a film that needlessly blew the film's final scene in its own trailer! More than once! And everyone was just fine with that!
Make no mistake: Venom is a gift from the Ill-Advised Cinema gods.
PS: I should also point out that, unsurprisingly, the 4K edition of Venom looks and sounds amazing. Of course, that doesn't really alleviate the fact that Venom, in any resolution, remains a muddy-colored, curiously contained bit of filmmaking, or that the VFX showcased in its Final Boss Battle are messy to the point of incomprehensibility. Nor will it make any difference to you to whether you're watching an alien symbiote call Eddie Brock a "pussy" in 4K, 1280p or 480p. But if you're big on having the best, shiniest version of Venom available, I suppose it's worth the scratch.