Even the best of intentions can go horribly awry…
With the arrival of Venom into our Marvel/Spider-Verse universe the results are a washed out and emotionally layer-less film that just sits around doing as little as humanly possible until the character development turns on a dime into something fun that almost saves the entire thing…almost.
Investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a guy who uncovers corruption and crime at every turn…that is until he turns his eye on industrialist and scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who is using his fast fortune towards the exploration of space and the continuation of the human race but at the expense of those less fortunate than him and by any means necessary. Eddie gets a little too carried away with himself and in the blink of an eye, his career is an afterthought and he loses the woman of his dreams (Michelle Williams). Months later when Eddie is confronted by Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) an employee of Drake who can’t turn a blind eye to crimes that her boss is committing, he can’t help but start to look around and on an authorized trip to Drake’s lab he finds the symbiotes; one of which develops an unhealthy attachment to him. However when he learns that Drake has bonded with a symbiote of his own, who wants to use his shuttles to bring back thousands of other creatures like him to take over the world, Eddie finds it within himself to strike a deal with his new attachment and ultimately become Venom.
Please make no mistake, Venom is not something that you’d come remotely close to even calling a good film as its flat, underdeveloped script sits pretty lifelessly for at least the first half of the film until Tom Hardy gets an excuse to be unleashed and make for a comic book effort that while probably more campy then had been intended, ends up playing as a fair bit of entertaining nonsense.
There are far too many cooks in the screenwriting kitchen here on Venom as the film fails to find a tone or a voice for the first half of the movie as it engages up with exposition and setup that doesn’t even allow for a lot of entertainment value as it all comes off in a fairly flat fashion. It doesn’t have enough purpose or genuine direction in the narrative as the character development for our lead and the supporting players is just thread bare and you can feel the actually script just biding its time for the action sequences. Ruben Fleischer does a reasonable job at directing it all but at times it does feel like too much of a retread of something like Todd McFarlane’s Spawn rather than the slick entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we’ve been used to. The action and the CGI are decent, but occasionally over done never quite fitting with the story they’re trying…or at least should be trying to make.
This film is being sold as a “Badass Comic Book Movie” but in reality in anything but as the promise of violence and gore gets watered down into a PG-13 concoction of simply implying that he’s biting people’s heads off rather than actually seeing it. It’s ironic that in a film where our hero uses the catchphrase or mantra of “There’s no such thing as can’t” we as an audience really don’t get to see all that much. Instead of badass the film gives us banter that while entertaining is actually bordering on corny and a bit of a shift from how the movie is being sold to audiences.
Tom Hardy does his absolute best here as Eddie Brock and Venom is bring some life to the proceedings but that really only happens when the two are together and the interplay inside his head is kind of funny. While the character gets sold as a rugged everyman, they at least get it half right as the character is just a bit of a sarcastic schmuck until the symbiote gives him the tools to back it all up. Riz Ahmed is wasted as our bad guy as he just feels more petulant then menacing, even at the best of times while Michelle Williams is there to be nothing more than blonde and someone for Hardy’s character to pine for.
Yeah, there’s nothing that will help sugar coat this and call Venom a ‘good film’ but at least Hardy and Fleischer who does at least have a sense of deadpan comedy makes the last half of this film somewhat fun to watch. That being said the first half of the film is just straight up boring and when you’re trying to rope audiences into a comic book style adventure, that’s probably the worst thing you could ever be.