Let’s just get this out of the way now: “Venom” is not a great movie, but some of the reviews of the film are simply way too harsh. In the end, the film is entertaining and has positive aspects to it, but we as society have been spoiled by good comic movies over the past decade. If this movie came out in 2007, it would be seen much more positively while today it’s potential is to be a cult classic.
Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist living in San Francisco whose ego and hotheadedness causes him to lose both his job and his fiance, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), while asking hard-hitting questions to bioengineering company Life Foundation CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) in what was supposed to be a fluff piece. Months later, with the aid of one of Drake’s employees, he breaks into the Life Foundations laboratories to investigate the experiments being performed on the city’s homeless population with alien parasites called “symbiote.” One of the symbiote, Venom, bonds with Brock and it gives him enhanced abilities that make him near invulnerability.
The film’s critical failure is not for a lack of effort by Hardy, who performs admirably in a surprisingly complex role as a man who is at the top of his world at the start of the film only for it to crumble immediately. Bonding with Venom is not without consequences and he stumbles to adapt similar to a drunk people in New York City walking home after last call. The most rewarding experience, however, is watching his relationship with Venom itself, who initially operates as a voice inside his head until presenting himself. Yes Venom is a parasite (but don’t call him that), but the two have an internal struggle throughout the film as Brock is a good person at heart who must temper the evil urges of Venom.
Brock’s relationship with Weying is enjoyable. Weying begins the film as a defense attorney representing Life Foundation and Brock betrays her trust by reading her company emails and uses the information in his interview with Drake. She breaks up with him and months later she has moved on and has a serious boyfriend, but she still very much cares about Brock. The biggest issue with the character is the wig Williams wore that did not seem necessary and looked clearly fake.
Where the film struggles, is with it’s plot. Drake is a corrupt CEO of a major company whose threatening power and ego prevents anyone from stopping him. Where have we seen this before? Here, and here too. And while I try to keep spoilers out of my reviews, it’s simply impossible to not mention it, the movie completely squatted on the film’s secondary villain, something that could have been enhanced by going more in-depth into Venom’s backstory earlier into the film. The pacing of the film is also inconsistent, as it starts slow before going too fast.
Sony also made the poor decision of keeping this anti-hero film PG-13. Fox showed that R-rated comic films can be very profitable with “Deadpool” and “Logan” and the ever-gory Venom has a storyline well-suited for the rating. Instead, we are left with many moments in action and dialogue that leave much to be desired, something that could have happened without the limitations of the film rating.
The action sequences were well-done and the film effectively showed just how diverse Venom’s powers are. For those who have read the comics, they will be pleased to see several Easter eggs in the film. While Venom’s character and actions are something reminiscent of a horror film, the film is not without several laugh out loud moments to add brevity.
For most, Sony’s first foray into their Marvel Universe will be a forgettable one, but the franchise has potential and the Marvel Cinematic Universe stumbled a bit before finding their footing. “Iron-Man” was a smash hit, but let’s not forget, “The Hulk,” “Thor,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” all rank towards the bottom of the overall quality of the MCU films. The MCU got better with time and after establishing their players, hopefully Sony’s Marvel Universe will too.