Dan Glaser’s Movie Podcast: Episode 22  —  Venom with Francis Hamilton

Published on 2018-10-11

Welcome to Dan Glaser’s Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. In each episode I go with a different comedian to see a movie and then we head to the closest coffee shop to chat about it over the internet. Yes it is a podcast, you just have to read it instead of listen to it. As always, you can catch up on all the other episodes here. Even better, consider supporting the podcast by subscribing!

(I ran into Francis hanging out with his good friend Red and Blue Venom)
(I ran into Francis hanging out with his good friend Red and Blue Venom)

I met Francis at the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn to see the the latest Marvel / Non Marvel movie. He ordered a lot of food and even ate most of it. After the film, we walked up Fulton street to Green Grape Annex to talk on the internet about what just happened. Francis and I both had cold brew coffee and we sat outside, where the weather was nice.

Dan: Hi Francis, and thank you for joining me today on Dan Glaser's Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. I think we can perhaps agree that one measure of the quality of a person's life is how they are thought of by others. With that in mind, I just have one question before we begin: what did you think of Venmo?

Francis: Hey Dan, thanks so much for having me. That's an excellent question and I think we're in total agreement. Venmo is a unique and interesting way to connect with one another on a different level. A level we haven't seen before. It's something of a mutual symbiosis, if you will.

Dan: Before seeing this movie, I wasn't 100% sure about what Venom's (Venmo in this movie is named Venom) deal is. Now that we have left the theatre and are sitting outside of an un-air conditioned coffee shop, I think I am closer to understanding. Venom is an alien wet suit that makes you do bike tricks.

Francis: Yes, I think that's right. We had a bit of a preview on Venmo's history since we saw this film at the Alamo Drafthouse. The short that played before the movie seemed to suggest that he's always been a character that was “hard to categorize”. It seems like we have our answer now. He's a bullet shit gak monster who wants to eat everything but also is kind of sweet in very specific, random moments.  

Dan: And that's beautiful. Francis, you are like a comic book guy right? Did you know this whole story before we got in?

Francis: Truly. He has great comedic timing and knows how to use the English language well.

Dan: I feel the following way about most comic book movies: the people who CARE about them suck ass. Do you suck ass? You are allowed to like them or dislike them but you are not allowed to CARE about them. My pod. My rules.

Francis: I am kind of a superhero guy. There's something I find very fun about these sort of American myth creatures we made for children that now command billions. I think that I probably suck ass. It's a familiar self hatred, like when I love mainstream video games or go to a Bright Eyes concert. I know I should be a better person. But thankfully, I don't think I've cared about a superhero ever? I find them all very silly.

Dan: Hmmmm. You raise an interesting point. Venom felt like a movie where the comedic, emotional, and character moments were written for children. I was reminded of looking at a children's picture book, clearly realizing this is not for me. With a children's book however, it is clearly something made BY adults FOR children. With Venom i was wondering: this was clearly made FOR people who suck ass, but was it made BY people who suck ass? Or by adults just looking to capitalize on an audience that knows when to clap and when to laugh right on cue. I need to learn to not get so mad at the audiences that I see movies with. I guess I just have very little hope that studios will bother with better scripts when they are consistently rewarded like this for mediocre ones.

Francis: That's the question! And I want to think they knew what they were doing. It hits all the beats that make people who love this stuff lose it. But there was something off about it all to me. I spent too much time wondering where this world fit in with all the others and if it did at all. 

Dan: Ahhh, yeah you mentioned that. This is a Sony movie made In Association With Marvel, which means what exactly? It is in the Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield Spiderverse but not the Avengers? I actually, if you can believe it, don't care at all about any of that.

Francis: Sure. I also think we've all experienced a change since Iron Man set the stage for all these pop muscle man films--everything should be funny. If it isn't funny we start to focus on how dumb it all is. 

But at the same time, as Justice League showed us, you can also not be funny at all.

Dan:  But also, why can't it be actually funny? Is it that much harder to make it good? So many choices!

Francis: I think so! Maybe we should give a few of those films more credit for being funny enough to make us forget how bad they are during them! 

Dan: I've said this before but Marvel (and I guess by extension, In Association With Marvel) movies make the mistake of thinking they are funny, but are not. DC movies make the mistake of thinking they are serious, but they are not. If I had to choose, I guess I would choose to eat Legos.

Francis: And you wouldn't be wrong to do that. I do think I've had a genuine good time in a few of these movies and laughed at moments. But it is the same sort of humor you might appreciate from any other activity where you know humor isn't the main focus so you don't worry so much that it isn't actually hilarious. That said, this movie was not funny at all.

Dan: The good news in all of this, is the dog that came to sit next to us while we make this podcast episode!

Francis: He is so sweet and well behaved. My dog would be trying to eat any and all things.

Dan: Speaking of eating any and all things....should we talk about what happens in this 90 minute long ad for San Francisco?

Francis: Eddie Brock found out that Venom make you hungie.  He prefers things alive for some reason.

Dan: Sometimes.

Francis: But also likes frozen goods sometimes. He also likes chicken if it's garbage chicken. And he can appear in mirrors and car windows.  He's a real hungry Mr. Hyde monster who animals don't trust.

Dan: Let's start at the beginning: a spaceship is approach Earth. It burns up on re-entry while Riz Ahmed, who plays an Evil Man named Drake watches from a big computer room. The spaceship crashes in EAST MALAYSIA, which is one of the best locations ever to be listed on the bottom of a screen during a movie.

Francis: Yes. Drake is an Elon Musk type who is willing to bend the rules much like a Steve Jobs type. He almost cured pancreatic cancer so he's been given free reign to murder in secret.

Dan: Ironic. Considering Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer while trying to cure murder.

Francis: We find out that they recovered these four symbiotes from a comet/asteroid but one gets away.

Dan: Yes a bunch of EAST MALAYSIAN paramedics arrive on the scene and save three canisters of ALIEN GOO. All the astronauts are dead except for one man who comes back to life and kills some people in an ambulance and then the ALIEN GOO that was inside him jumps into a paramedic. Okay great, that is now set up.

Francis: I will say I did sort of like this reveal because I figured Venom was going to end up being some sort of man-made gunk from a lab.

Dan: The real alien symbiote...is man. Somewhere during all this we are introduced to Eddie and his girlfriend Annie, who is a lawyer.

Francis: Yeah, they are clearly in love and have been for long enough to get a bunch of screen savers of them in various places around San Fran on her laptop.

Dan: Wait lol this is also how the movie explains what kind of guy Eddie is. Lawyer girlfriend has a big case and has to wear a SUIT. Eddie, we learn, rides a MOTORCYCLE and has VICE show.

Francis: Eddie runs a vlog where he interviews people and goes to dangerous countries. He asks hard questions, avoids gun fire and is a loose cannon. So his boss things it's a good idea for him to interview a guy on a fluff piece who Eddie suspects of war crimes.

Dan: Yes the character intro for him has him riding a motorcycle while we see a montage of him like interviewing escaped Sea World manatees. His Save The Cat Moment is a split screen of him doing wheelies and then drinking ayahuasca with occupy wall street.

Francis: He is very in love and serious about date night too though. And super quick to betray his girlfriend when it comes to his work. Establishing that he is irresponsible? I don't know. He also is rude to all his friends but generous. He is a rude, generous journalist from "the city."

Oh! And we do get a reveal that he got kicked of NYC establishing that we will never see Spider-Man very early on. There are a lot of cat jokes and eating animal jokes. I wondered if it was maybe a homage to Alf?

Dan: I think the symbiotes are from Melmac, if that is what you are implying. I will give this movie credit: it is a well enough structured version of this type of movie. Introduce everything and then get to work.

Francis: I'd say it's only one car chase too long and is super efficient for the most part. I can't imagine what the 40 minutes they cut that Tom Hardy complained about were.

Dan: It even has the thing that all superhero origin movies do, where some guy gets super powers and then at the end he has to fight an evil version of the same thing. See also: Iron Man, Captain America, Dr. Strange, etc etc etc.

But that's cheating, you have to sit through the entire plot just like we did, so we will get to that later! So what happens next? We learn about the Life Foundation? Jenny Slate is introduced?

Francis: Yes, our villain is actually trying to find discoveries and habitable planets in space to save Earth from itself. Jenny Slate is a scientist there who looks the other way, much like her 3000 other colleagues. If you cure pancreatic cancer they will let you kill homeless people all the time. Did you know Jonas Salk was the Zodiac?

Dan: I think her character’s name is Dr Skirt?

Francis: I think someone just forgot to type a new name for her when they had Adobe opened and the name evolved. We're all about adapting in Venom, through every part of the movie.

Dan: I think that's only in the X-Men Universe, which is still Fox.

Francis: Oh damn, you're right.

Dan: Okay, well Eddie Brock, who is Tom Hardy with an accent that can only be described as "FROM DA CITY", works for some TV station. He is smug and I guess, famous? His boss tells him to go interview Drake, but not to be mean since Drake can buy their whole network and "No one is above the Network.:

Francis: Yeah, they gave him a home and he shits on it by doing his job and casually asking about some questionable tests the super doctor villain is doing.

Dan: Again, insane assignment for this guy. But also in his defense, why send this guy? He is literally a rebel on a motorcycle.

Francis: He is a well known reporter. We all know the names of all the reporters who work for Vice and Eddie is no different.  He is exactly the person you would not send for this job and he says so much to his girlfriend. It's one of those things that by acknowledging we know it's stupid that somehow in it's own way becomes the answer for why. If that makes sense. Which it doesn't.

I miss the dog.

Dan: Let's just get this out of the way: throughout the entire movie, the alien symbiote that possessed the EAST MALAYSIAN paramedic slowly shambles it's way to America. It does some dumb shit in a market, takes over different people, eats an eel, follows a little girl into a public restroom (#political) etc etc eventually getting to San Fran. Great now we don't have to check back in with that for a while.

Francis: It's funny that the trope of our threat's slow plodding journey is so normalized that I almost completely forgot those scenes existed. Also, why did the symbiote attach to that little girl? She isn't exactly a good cover for going cross country and breaking into a super lab on the bay. Seemed like a good way to kill a little girl for no reason.

Dan:  The only thing I can think of, and this is literally post hoc justification of things that probably were not thought out at all, is that the symbiote wanted to progress to less and less threatening hosts.

1) Big strong astronaut

2) Smaller female EAST MALAYSIAN paramedic

3) Old lady with a cane

4) Tiny blonde girl

5) Billionaire Entrepreneur

Francis: Yeah. That adds up. And in the end we get...RIOT.

Dan: Okay so back in the movie.

Annie the Lawyer, who is Michelle Williams with a The Americans quality blonde wig (I hope it is a wig) is a defense lawyer who represents bad boy Drake in some case. Eddie hacks her laptop and reads the legal memo which is basically a PDF saying Drake kills people, which I would maybe have encrypted.

Francis: They can't afford encryption they spent all their money on off road dune buggies for the redwoods and bomb drones.

Dan: Oh the drones. A bleak vision of the road we are headed down. An exploding drone on every corner and a symbiote in every reporter. #DrakesAmerica.

Francis: I know I'm not supposed to think about the drones or why this man has them or so much security but man those drones. But yeah, Eddie uses those files in this ambush interview and is basically blacklisted from ever doing anything ever again. Michelle Williams leaves him and he becomes a man who drinks two beers all the time because foreshadowing is two beers. 

Dan: Right, quick point. During the interview with Drake, Eddie basically asks him questions that he obviously won't answer and that obviously reveal that Eddie has privileged info. So yes, all his shit is ruined. Drake fucks him up.

Flash forward...6 months?

Francis: 6 months.

Dan: Time to hit the bodega and be nice to homeless ladies. Eddie has no job, is now in a bad apartment, and is nice to a homeless lady.

Francis: He circled dishwasher in a classified ad so he wouldn't forget to interview to be a dishwasher.

Dan: Lol yes. He is really down AND out.

Francis: He also moved to a slum on mission that he can barely afford probably. Probably in the 5k a month range.

Dan: He still has all that YouTube ad revenue. Okay quick pause.

Francis: Yeah, I cannot believe he just didn't start his own freelance YouTube channel. 

Dan: This entire movie, is basically Upgrade but with Real Tom Hardy instead of Fake Tom Hardy and an alien instead of a computer chip. Also it probably cost 50-70x as much to make and is much worse. Everyone go watch Upgrade. 

Similar to Upgrade, Venom even has a Bad Guy that makes no sense (Drake here, Elon Musk Jr in Upgrade), unless you decide that maybe he was secretly being controlled by a computer chip / alien the whole time? It is a great excuse for a movie to make no sense. A way out for motivations and actions that are unclear or nebulous. He is / was lying / following a higher plan / maybe.

Francis: We can never know because we are never really privy to Venom's motivations which in a way kind of makes it more alien but probably not in the way they intended. Although at his worst Eddie starts to meditate listening to Eckhart Tolle which is sort of a hint. Eckhart is famous for his spiritual self help book "The Power of Now" which is all about living in the present moment and in a way, that's what Venom gives Eddie. 

Dan: Wow beautiful.

Francis: Upgrade makes a little bit more sense but does it have Tom Hardy sitting in a lobster tank at a restaurant with the guy from Veep checking his fever? Yes?

Dan: The Upgrade version of the Lobster Tank Scene would be...smashing a mercenary's head through a coffee table version of an iphone.

How's THAT for an upgrade?

Francis: Damn!

Dan: Okay, so The Life Foundation, which is one of Drake's uh research companies, is doing tests on the symbiotes that came back from the spaceship mission.

The tests are: putting a rabbit in there and seeing what happens.

After something happens, Drake says  "GREAT, now let's do it with humans."

Dan: Back at the lab, Jenny Slate, one of the good ones, says, "UH I DON'T THINK SO TIM!" and goes to find Eddie, the one man who can help. She finds him in the bodega he goes to, somehow.

Francis: Yes. And once again, his scientists pull their collars and go "yeesh!" but they begrudgingly continue because no one can tell this guy no. He's achieved too much for humanity. Granted, it has been established through Eddie's downfall that this man can really ruin your life with his connections. 

Dan: In the bodega Eddie actually says like: "to be a good reporter you have to follow people, and be sneaky. You're very bad at it!" But like, she found this random ass washed up dude who is basically off the grid? So actually she is good at it.

Francis: Hahahaha. Yeah! She did a good job finding him. 

Dan: This part, as a plot point, was pretty silly. The only man who can help her expose the truth, that she has access to every day, is this guy?

Francis: Eddie Brock is the wikileaks of Vice.

Dan: Well he says no way, no thanks ma'am. She gives him HER CARD, with her WORK NUMBER on it. This was also...insane.

Francis: She is very afraid but very sloppy. She gets him into the lab which I assume has no cameras in it (because it has so many drones so why bother).

Dan: He of course ends up calling her AT WORK. And they talk about their plans ON THE WORK LINE. (this also never bites them in the ass or anything don't worry, they just do this a lot)

Okay wait. I forget, why does he end up calling her? He goes to visit Michelle Williams in a depressed way first right? Does he hit rock bottom or something? What's the deal I literally can’t remember even though it was about an hour ago.

Francis: It seems like she should probably have taken pictures of the lab herself and gotten them to Eddie but sneaking him in the back of her car after work hours and showing up at the lab super late for no reason also works, yeah.

To your question, he finds out Michelle has moved on and their chances of getting back together are non-existent so I guess he feels he has nothing to lose at this point.

It is a suicide mission in a sense

Dan: Ohhh ya that's right. He is on the bridge ready to jump. And he sees Drake's lab from the bridge lol. Yes good.

Francis: Great view.

Dan: Yes so he calls Dr Skirt and they just talk about their plan to sneak in. Don't worry, I have a plan, she implies. The plan is, lie down i the back seat while we drive in. It works. The next plan is, go into this room while I distract the guard. It works. Honestly great plans.

All predicated on the secret lab not having any cameras or actual security.

Francis: Which it doesn't until later. Eddie gets in and takes pictures of homeless people. It works. But one of them is a friend! 

Dan: Wait we skipped an “important” scene.

Francis: Did we?!

Dan: Earlier on, Drake decides that he will "test" the symbiote on humans.

Francis: Oh yeah, Isaac. Poor dude.

Dan: He brings in a sick looking dude and gives him a speech about how Drake is God now.

Francis: Yes, we establish that the symbiote needs a good match and this guy ain't cutting it.

Dan: Yes it needs to "be a match" with its host. This is NEVER expanded upon.

Francis: No. I have no idea what makes a good host.

Dan: Compatible taste in music. Similar views on religion. Sometimes it's as simple as the sex is good.

Francis: But apparently the disenfranchised and diseased sick people of San Francisco who have sad lives and nothing to live for are not ideal subjects for a creature trying to thrive in an alien atmosphere. 

Although, when Eddie tries to break out his friend we find out he's a perfect match for one of the aliens named Venmo!

Dan: Okay, cut back to Eddie in the Lab. He sees some homeless people and dead symbiotes and he is taking lots of snapshots on his Sony Xperia Smart Phone. Yes, one of the patients is the homeless lady he was nice too. He tries to break her out and then he gets Venmoed.

Now we are in FULL Upgrade mode. Venom is controlling Eddie, talking to him, making him Fight.

Francis: And busting out the one liners.

Dan: The security team chases him through a forest on ATVs that do sick jumps.

Francis: Yes, he is immediately very powerful and able to escape in a car chase through San Francisco that last about 3 or 4 hours.

Dan: Wait no. I actually don’t think that is now.

Francis: There were two! That's right.

Dan: He goes home first, Venom isn't talking or actually interacting with him yet. Eddie is just freaking out after climbing a tree very fast. Too fast.

Francis: Yes. But something is definitely up. We know because he is eating everything.

Dan: He goes upstairs and a voice in his head starts saying stuff like "food." The audience LOVES everything this voice says.

Francis: There was a guy behind us who would start laughing when Venom said anything. Like before he finished saying it, even if it was "I am hungry." This is where I start to hate myself.

Dan: It sounded like as if had a big thing of popcorn in his hands, and was about to put a kernel into his mouth, and then venom would say like , "THAT’S GOTTA HURT" and the guy would guffaw and throw the entire bag into the air and send popcorn flying everywhere. This happened every 30 seconds or so, once the movie took off.

Francis: This guy loves Venom more than Jonas Salk loved killing people.

Dan: Spit takes sending Blood Orange Seltzer (we are at Alamo Drafthouse) into the 3rd row.

Francis: Eddie decides the only person who can help is his lawyer/ex girlfriend.

Dan: Correct. Keep in  mind, Venom isn’t really communicative at this point. He is just like sort of controlling Eddie sometimes and making him eat a lot. Eddie approaches Annie at a fancy restaurant with LOBSTERS and freaks everyone out. The audience LOVED THIS SHIT.

Francis: It was weird how much they liked it, I think?

Dan: He is trying people's food and tossing people around without his control and basically being a worse version of the same character in Upgrade. Then he sits in the lobster tank.

Bringing down the house.

Annie's boyfriend, Dan from Veep, is a doctor named Dan and he takes Eddie to hospital. I appreciate that Dan is a good guy. #YesAllDans

Francis: They establish that he's a good dude a lot. And that he likes Eddie.

Dan: Could have made the new boyf a dick.

Francis: But we can't teach the kids that.

Dan: Bravely made him a Nice Jewish Doctor.

Francis: So he fixes Eddie the only way he knows how--an MRI. I would have gone with antibiotics but MRI works, too.

Dan: Or crystals. Maybe reiki. Anyway the MRI makes venom freak out. This is the first of....12 times that this movie explains and sets up what Venom's weakness is? I've never seen a movie take so much time to repeat a monster's weakness, loudly and explicitly.

Francis: We are reminded a lot that Venom doesn't like a certain frequency and really doesn't like fire.

Dan: 4-6khz.

Francis: But from what I understand Venom is basically the god mode cheat in GTA the rest of the time

Dan: Yes as we will soon learn, Venom is basically invincible and can basically do anything at any time. Sort of like the Chip from Upgrade. This ensures that there is literally no tension during any action sequence since we know Venom and therefor Eddie can't be hurt or lose ever, even more so than in every other comic book movie.

Francis: Yeah, there are a few fight scenes where Venom is always in control. He can also heal Eddie when Eddie gets hurt immediately.It's also at this point where Eddie goes from the most confident man in the world to a bumbling mess and never recovers, even after understanding his power and embracing the relationship with his symbiote. Much the opposite of Topher Grace.

Dan: Here are some of the things venom can do:

1) Punch people really hard

2) Spike people really hard

3) Stretch around in all directions and grip stuff

4) Jump high, run fast, swim hard

5) Eat people

6) Speak englishes

Francis: 7) give love advice

Dan: 8) Stop bullets

9) Not need to stop bullets because they cant hurt him

Francis: 10) lick ya

Dan: 11) MAKE you do sweet motorcycle tricks

Francis: He is somewhat different from the comic Venom in this way. In the comic, Venom basically inherited a lot of Spider-Man's web slinging and he doesn't do that here. He can just sort of stick like one of those old hand toys you had as a kid that got too hairy but you didn't want to throw it away.

Dan: Regarding bike tricks: In the chase scene that is about to happen, he makes Eddie go real fast off a ramp / hill on his motorcycle. In the air, Venom--whose hands are holding the handlebars--releases the handlebars so that Eddie flies off his bike, does a superman, then extends his alien goo to regrip the handlebars and nail a sick landing. For no reason.

Francis: Thus inspiring the Lords of Dogtown.

Dan: Basically bad boy Drake catches Jenny Slate and forces her to tell him who stole his symbiote. She does and then he sends some anonymous mercs to hunt him down. This is when Venom starts to fight stuff and do quips.

Francis: Venom then relates to Eddie because they are both losers. 

Dan: Francis that’s not for a very long time lol. In fact, that's like the movies BIG REVEAL. Much later.

Francis: Man, this movie filled in a lot. But the two basically agree to help each other at this point, yeah?

Dan: Well we have the chase scene on the Harley. It is as you say, mostly Tom Hardy acting bewildered and overwhelmed and saying stuff like "WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!" as countless people are exploded and decapitated around him. This is also the part of the movie where DRONES show up.

Francis: And we all laugh. 

Dan: Just lots and lots of drones that explode.

Francis: There are so, so many drones.

Dan: They have cameras and report back to the heard merc but also they just are bombs.

Francis: Which explode which is bizarre because the evil guy has established he wants the alien back safe so I don't know if the drones were supposed to carry Eddie back to the lab or something.

Dan: Actually let’s pause and go through Drake's plan / motivation. Do you want to give it a shot? Take all the time you need.

Francis: Oh yeah, Drake's motivation.

Dan: That’s the new Uncharted game right?

Francis: Dan, the world is messed up. Have you noticed? Dr. Skirt says at one point that we are a generation away from global warming and (other stuff) destroying humanity. The relationship between symbiote and human will allow us to live in space and, I assume, colonize other planets. Steven Musk Jobs will stop humanity’s destruction at any cost. He is a classic "for the greater good" villain and doesn't have any of those super tiring emotions like guilt or sadness. Unless I missed something.

Dan: You forgot that he is also evil.

Francis: Yeah, at no point do you agree with anything he says or does. I think he is just Elon Musk but he just speaks what we all assume Elon's internal monologue is.

Dan: Okay great. Thanks to the drone footage he gets to see what a PERFECT MATCH Eddie and the symbiote are, and as such he decides he doesn't want him dead, he wants him alive to study. Great.

Francis: He is Ozymandias from Watchmen minus reason.

Dan: Also Venom tells Eddie that his name is Venom and that he is gonna take over the world but if you behave maybe I'll let you live. Venom, in this movie, looks like a CGI Demo from 1992. Of like water coming out of a well and taking the shape of a man. It comes on a CD with the Sept issue of PC-GAMER.

Francis: The CGI looks bad when you can see Venom, which is rarely, because San Francisco is incredibly dark and only lit by blue lights. But he is willing to compromise with Eddie and allow him to drop off his scoop at his old network.

Dan: Oh jesus yes, the next thing. Eddie decides that he MUST get his pictures to his old boss at the old network. He tries to go into the building but a security guard stops him. Venom tells him instead to scale the building, and the audience laughs.

If Venom really wanted to help he would have told him about email. Instead, he has to jump into the building and physically place his cell phone on the dude's desk.

Francis: But then we wouldn't have our Pride Rock moment with Venom and Eddie where Venom realizes Earth is beautiful and he'd like to stay and chill.

Dan: Hahaha.

Francis: It takes three minutes of enjoying the view from a skyscraper for Venom to right his ways. And that is the Power of Now! 

Dan: Yeah Venom goes from destroyer of worlds to national parks lifetime member in about 15 minutes.

Jesus what else happens in this movie? Oh ya Jenny Slate is killed off screen, what else what else.

Francis: Uh...so the original loose symbiote finally makes its way to the lab and inhabits the evil dude.

Dan: Yep great. Oh but before that, in the lobby of the network building, Venom is confronted by a bunch of SWAT team dudes. He kills them all without much effort (on his part, on the movie's part there is a lot of effort put into making this fight cool)

After he kills them all, Michelle Williams shows up, and walks in.

Francis: Yeah, she's there. I don't know why.

Dan: Or how.

Francis: She was looking for Eddie and he said stay away. And she found him. Probably an iphone app.

Dan: But he reveals to her that he now has a Venom and she tells him to get in the car and let's go see doctor Dan. This car ride...is insane.

Francis: She takes him to the hospital where we are told Venom's weaknesses for the 3rd time at this point.

Dan: Venom, who can talk out loud by the way, tells Eddie to tell Annie....what Venom's weaknesses are.

Francis: And gives him some dating advice. I didn't think about that but he could have totally just talked this whole time.

Dan: He literally talks to people at many points. He also tells Eddie to tell Annie “he's sorry.” He teaches him how to find the g-spot and how to listen better.

Francis: Yeah, Venom gives a speech about radical consent. 

Dan: Well they arrive. At the hospital Annie turns on the MRI and they trap Venom in the MRI room. She then turns the MRI off and Venom escapes. Cool.

Francis: Yeah, you gotta turn it off. Dr Dan is sort of not okay with it but he runs with the punches. Doctor Dan tells Eddie that Venom is actually draining his life or something. When Eddie finds out Venom is killing him he tells him he sucks and leaves. Eddie is then is quickly captured by the mercs who he somehow thought he'd evade without being Venom.

Dan: Yeah 20 seconds after Venom leaves his body, Eddie bumps into the mercs who were after him, who somehow found him again (drones i'm guessing).

Francis: Dr. Dan. He's such a cool dude.

Dan: Dr. Dan needs his own movie. I think the most unrealistic thing about this movie is how good a dude he is.

Francis: I would watch a movie about a doctor whose girlfriend has a close relationship with her ex and it gets him into hijinks. In some ways, I already have.

Dan: Great, so Eddie is brought to Life Foundation labs, where he gets interrogated by Drake. Drake is now possessed by the other Symbiote, who we find out is named Riot, and I mean who cares. I guess the main part of this scene is we learn what Riot's motivation is, and we are given additional context to these aliens in the first place.

Francis: I wonder if it's a language translation where they actually have different names but this is as close as it gets? Why am i giving them this much credit.

Dan: I take it back, the new context is actually important to this movie. We find out that Drake didn't randomly discover these aliens, they have been LOOKING for planets full of ripe juicy humans to eat.

Francis: Yes, they are here to harvest us and let their home planet know they found a whole new planet full of lobsters, chicken nuggets and motorcycle dudes.

Dan: After learning that Eddie no longer has a Venom “up his ass”, Drake does the logical thing, since he is no longer needed. He tells his mercs to walk him into the woods a few miles out and then kill him there.

Francis: Yeah, this is one of the laziest things this movie did.

Dan: They were desperate for a situation that would be easy to escape from. They didn’t even bother to have a throwaway line like "don't get blood all over my lab."

Francis: But the mercs get taken down by...you guessed it...sexy Michelle Williams Venom or as I like to call it, the thing we knew would happen.

Dan: Venom more like Vavavoomnom. Yes folks, if you wanted a 6 foot 5 venom with tits...you are the guy sitting behind us.

Francis: They share a kiss that is definitely not your Spider-Man Tobey and Kirsten Dunst kiss!

Dan: Anyway you know how Venoms can only symbiote with a perfect match? Also they can symbiote with this other lady. Also a random dog in the hospital. Also literally every other person that Riot was symbioting with throughout the movie.

It is about this time that Venom has a heart to heart with Eddie. Riot you see, is actually the team leader. Venom was sent here as part of this team to uh, destroy Earth, but now he likes Earth. On Venom planet, Venom is a loser, like Eddie. On Earth however, Venom is COOL.

Francis: What changed his mind? You did Eddie, says Venom. They have had such good times after all. Those two car chases. The lobster tank.

Dan: The lobster tank. Well here is a take. If I want to be generous.

The movie establishes that once sympatico, Venom has access to all of Eddie's memories, thoughts and emotions. Eddie is or at least was a real bleeding heart, community minded individual. Rather than simply Venom infecting Eddie, perhaps Venom has been infected with Eddie's personality unwillingly. This is their first interaction with humans, after all. Perhaps a sentient mind reacts differently than a lesser organism, and that is all the symbiotes have ever merged with before.

Alternatively, we just need a reason for the two Venoms to fight.

Francis: I want it to be the first reason. 

Dan: Deal.

Francis: And boy do they fight. Or sort of squash together.

Dan: Oh by the way, Venom tells Eddie that Riot has a bunch of weapons and stuff and he is gonna take a spaceship and go get them so let’s stop him.

Francis: He says Riot can do stuff “[Eddie] won't believe.” One of those things is make a medieval mallet with his arm. Which I totally believed and expected.

Dan: Well as we established, and as Venom (the movie and the character) keeps telling us, nothing can hurt Venom except a sound in the 4-6khz range or also fire. So like, these two Venoms just smash each other a bunch but like, we know it doesn’t hurt them?

Francis: Yes this is a classic superhero God mode fight with no consequences. It's like two of the same types of play dough hitting into each other.

Dan: Also shouldn't the goal be to just destroy the spaceship? Why fight the other Venom?

Francis: It seems to be a fight to rip apart each other's host body. Venom ends up winning because he rips the rocket up as it takes off causing a fire. We know fire hurts Venom and Riot. We know it so so well.

Dan: Great perfect. The movies also implies that Venom dies protected Eddie. Cool. Epilogue time. The final (pre-credits) scene is Eddie and Annie sitting on her stoop just kinda chatting.

“I can’t believe we made out, etc.”

“So THAT just happened, etc.”

Francis: They do have a "I can't believe we made out" scene. Like 40 year olds do.

Dan: Then you hear Venom basically sing Kiss The Girl from The Little Mermaid. And Stan Lee shows up. And everyone cheers and throws confetti for him. And I feel one step closer to death.

Francis: Yes. And he basically just says "good luck Venom."  He isn't pretending to be anyone else at this point. Very Stephen King multiverse.

Dan: OH YEAH and then there is an Eminem credits rap. 

Francis: This was very surprising but sort of makes the most sense. Because Eminem is the Venom of Rap.

Dan: My name's Eminem and I'm here to say / Symbiotes are cool in a major way.

Francis: Outdated, edgy for a certain time period and we do not understand his motivations or emotions.

So we didn't stay for the post credits scene(s) but I guessed what it would be and I was right and I'm not proud of that.

Dan: Yes before the movie started you told me the last scene will probably be introducing Carnage, another character in this world who I don't care about. Carnage is a character that dares to ask, what if Venom was edgier? 

Francis: in some ways the Insane Clown Posse. 

Dan: Anyway The End. What are the odds that they make another one of these movies?

Francis: I'm thinking probably 110%. The question will be who makes this next movie? And how much will Michelle Williams not be in it

Dan: My personal opinion is that it is not really that much worse than lots of other superhero movies that have had many sequels.

Tom Hardy now has DC and Marvel creds. Who else is in that bucket?

Francis: Uhhh Deadpool guy. Ryan.

Dan: Mmm yes.

Francis: To your point, Venom isn't much worse, that's true. I'd say this is about the same as the first Thor movie. In a lot of ways it tries to be edgy and isn't and in the end that's what Venom should be.

Dan: Venom reminded me of...Ant Man, which I never saw.

Francis: Lol.

Dan: I assume Ant Man is about this level of whatever.

Francis: Kind of. More jokes. Fewer night shots. It was enjoyable enough.

Dan: Or like, actually: The Punisher.

Francis: I didn't see that but I was told to watch it and I think I probably never will.

Dan: Venom was fine but like, who is this movie for?

Francis: Topher Grace?

Dan: I say fine in that, it was not abnormally bad. We have normalized this type of movie. Not recently, but over the entire history of popular cinema. It just exists, and will continue to exist.

Francis: This is for man-children and Tom Hardy fans. And that's fine. It's also a strange time for this film to be made because it doesn't feel like a stepping stone or a set up for a franchise or crossover (which is the whole point of these movies), so it's entirely unnecessary.

Dan: What did Eddie Brock learn in this story? How did he grow?

Francis: I don't believe he did and that's actually kind of amazing. He learned how to apologize for doing his job. 

Dan: The only thing he DOES, is decide to go to the lab and take pictures. That is really his only active choice. And even that is like, a reversion to form, rather than growth. Like, he started the movie doing this scoop busting investigative shit.

Stopped for 15 minutes in the middle.

Francis: It seems like he's going to learn something about playing by the rules? Caring about others? But he doesn't and now he's a worst person potentially because now he's a murderer.

Dan: If he started out and like, had trouble working with others or like relying on others, and THAT was the reason he and Michelle break up…then you can have the friction and eventual dependence with Venom payoff in the love arc. Like, maybe his lesson is more about opening up and relying on others.

Like, Venom really is a super basic movie with a super basic structure that just forgets to do some of the work in building out that super basic structure.

Francis: In some ways it assumes a lot of its audience because it knows we can fill in the blanks. So back to our original question: these guys knew what kind of movie they made. And did it right, kudos.

Dan: Whatever, I can't believe I contributed to this movie's box office gross.

Francis: I can't believe I ordered jerk chicken (we were at Alamo Drafthouse. It was sort of dry and expensive.

Dan: Should we talk about our server? Walk me through what happened with your soda.

Francis: Eh, she may have been new. But she asked if I wanted a straw. I said uh okay sure. And then she said we're cutting down on straws for the environment. So then I said "okay, I don't need one." She then looked annoyed said she'd already put it in the system and so they would bring me one.

Dan: Then she also said to "just let [her] know ahead of time next time."

Francis: Yeah, and you know, I will. "Please remember the rules next time I don't tell you them."

Dan: Well I think we covered everything that happens in this movie. Before we get to the closing questions, anything we missed? Anything you want to mention?

Francis: I think we covered most of it. There was a lot of weird animal stuff, just in general. Animals hate Eddie and they really hate Venom.

Dan: Yeah that is why they are such a perfect match.

For me, I really recommend that if you have any interest in seeing this movie, you should go see Upgrade instead. It's almost the same plot, it's much better, and it has exactly as much  Spider-Man in it so if that's the reason you are into this character you will be just as satisfied.

Francis: I would also just watch the trailer for Venom! 

Dan: Okay, question number one. What were your three favorite things about this movie?

1) Our audience, and their reaction to the lobster tank. 

2) Bomb drones and a San Francisco that recovers from mass warfare on its streets.

3) That kiss which is Lady and the Tramp meets Alien.

Dan: For me, 

1) Even though it was tonally discordant in a way that felt sloppy, there were a few legitimate body horror scenes that hint at a more interesting version of what we saw. Most of the stuff in the lab, for example.

2) Not knowing anything about this actual character in the original form, Venom being a BIG NERD on his planet, is so goddamn stupid as a big 3rd Act reveal that I have to applaud it.

3) Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams are still good actors and I don't blame them for anything.

Francis: Yes. I love Tom Hardy and one day he will speak like a human person in a film. And Michelle is fucking great. Also Venom is sort of the plant from little shop of horrors, isn't he?

Dan: FEED ME EDDIE! Okay, if you could change one thing about this movie, what would it be? This can be a new scene, change a character, rewrite a subplot. Anything your little heart desires!

Francis: I think I would have given Tom more of a transformation; his arc is ultimately unrewarding as we discussed. I wanted to see the dickhead we knew from the comics turn into a super dickhead. I wanted to see him feel any actual emotional turmoil instead of being reactionary the entire time pre and post Venom. I don’t want him to learn, but I want him to change.

Dan: Yes. Also, I would have loved to see more Venoms testing out more hosts. Sure we know that a Tom Hardy Venom is a big muscle man and a Michelle Williams Venom is a giant sex lady, but what about a Papillon Dog Venom? They literally have him infect this dumb dog in the hospital but never show him kill stuff. I want it to be like the scene in The Mask when Milo the Dog gets wacky. Venom should have to enter every possible host just to see what it's like. Michelle and Tom should have sex while in Venom mode and give birth to a hulked out Venom Baby. I want to see a Venomized iphone that makes Siri talk like the lead singer of Disturbed. This is the thing I want.

Okay last question, if you could rename this movie, what would you call it?

Francis: San Francisco Nights: Symbiosis Wow! 

Dan: I'd go with: Space Jokes Host to Host --or-- Downgrade

Well Francis, thanks again for your willingness to subject yourself to Drake's / Sony's unconscionable human testing. Any last words for our listeners?

Francis: Hey Dan, thank you for having me! You are the best at what you do but what you do isn't very nice. Venmo me.

Dan: Same! And Remember: "You know, for a smart guy, you really are a dumb-ass!"

<huge applause and laughter> 

Like what you read? Please consider supporting the podcast by subscribing. 

 
Francis Hamilton is writer and comedian living in Queens. You can follow him @francyham or watch him perform in Detective Sully at the UCB Theater every month!