The Tom Hardy lead comic-book movie Venom was released over a week ago with critics disgusted and audiences gorging, so which palate is correct?
It’s almost impossible to be open-minded when seeing a film these days, in fact I applaud anyone who sees one without being preconditioned by a review. But for the rest of us mere mortals, there’s no denying the inescapable truth that before you see it you will be influenced by reviews, whether you choose to be or not.
In a general sense, we see movies to escape; to laugh, to cry and to have a good time but it seems that anything that falls short of perfection in the eyes of critics is seen as a waste of time and money - at least that’s what we’re told.
So when you sit down to consume a comic-book related story which you know (due to the aforementioned) is meant to be terrible and you end up liking it, you leave the cinema with a very weird taste in your mouth.
This isn’t to say that Venom should be devoid of criticism, not at all. When you examine what a critic’s job entails, you can (all things being equal) understand why almost every journalist, online or otherwise, has lambasted the movie - it’s their job to pull it apart and give their assessment.
But if you look at the data on display comparing the audience’s positive reactions with the critic’s negative reviews, there has to be a reason why there’s such an imbalance.
The reason is quite simple, reviews which ‘chew them up and spit them out’ are the ones which get the most views. This has always been the nature of things but the age of social media has changed the relationship between critic and viewer, with Venom as the perfect case study into this larger issue.
Reviewers have a responsibility to not only share their expert opinion, constructively criticise the things which did not work, but also shed light on the points they enjoyed.
The increasingly worrying trend however, clearly on display through Venom's reviews, has been to forgo any semblance of enjoyment unless certain criteria are met.
It’s as if they’re asking you to only eat fruit and vegetables with no room for a cheat day.
I reiterate, this is not to say something shouldn’t be criticised but to dissuade readers from seeing a film which has the potential to entertain them is irresponsible and speaks louder of the intentions of the writer than the film in question.
Venom isn’t cut from the same cloth as its Marvel counterparts nor is it a contender for film of the year but as the audience score has shown, a lot of people aren’t too concerned about that fact and are enjoying the film all the same.
The answer to the opening question is a complex one as it requires a personal assessment, but if I had to pick sides I’d say viewers around the world have reminded critics of a very important point: whether it’s gourmet or take away, pizza is pizza.