Another day, another superhero movie is released… or maybe that’s just how it’s starting to feel. The day is October 4th, 2018 and it’s been eleven years since Topher Grace (That 70s Show) took on the role in Sam Raimi’s third installment in his series of Spider-man films, making Venom a parody of the being it was meant to be. Now that Tom Hardy has taken over the reigns for the titular character of Venom, the question lies within how he portrayed the antihero and ultimately if director Ruben Fleischer brought justice to the character in his first ever solo outing.
I want to start off by saying how much I absolutely loved Fleischer’s directorial debut, Zombieland. However his second and third (mostly) outing proved that he may not always bring about a fantastic product at the end of the day, but Zombieland always gives me hope. Unfortunately for Venom, what can’t be determined is what got cut from his vision and what didn’t, creating only a single option: to critique the film as it was screened. Let me just lay it down: Fleischer has some style throughout the film with some slick edits and fast paced action, however the final product is a choppy, discombobulated, and dated mess that somehow through all of the bad, is still a really fun time. Venom genuinely feels numbed down compared to what we see in this decade, bringing back vivid memories of Ghost Rider/Daredevil years, with absolutely nothing about his direction screaming unique or modern. Also it’s worth noting that the ending is entirely spoiled in each trailer that has been released for the film, so that’s a disappointing element for sure.
Eddie Brock is a reporter who seeks only the truth and to make sure criminals get taken out of the public eye. But in doing so, Eddie loses everything. Lost and out of reasons to try, his final attempt at redemption leads to an unfortunate attack that infects Eddie with the unleashed. His transformation causes a private agency to seek him out and try to take back the symbiote that inhabits his body. The film doesn’t provide any acknowledgment of Spider-man besides the brief mentioning of the Daily Planet. It’s a relatively straight forward story that matches the tone of those genre films of the mid to late ‘00s, but it’s very forgettable beyond the uniqueness of Hardy’s performance as the duo.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The relationship between Tom Hardy’s Eddie and Venom is an outstanding feat; it really locks the films fate with their fun, as well as sometimes relatable, collaboration. Unfortunately for Venom, the only other attributing factor in the characters is the unusual decision to change the typical trope of a competing new boyfriend, and while it’s a nice change of pace, it’s not a worthwhile enough difference to alter the tone. The rivalry between Eddie and Carlton is a relatively stereotypical interaction, where nearly every scene appears brighter than those where the villain is trying to be evil. Riz Ahmed just doesn’t work in the role as Carlton. Michelle Williams’ character is crucial in a few plot points, however her involvement in the film comes off as primarily melodramatic. Most notably she lives in an obnoxious denial of what she’s seen throughout the entire film. Venom has some vital miscasting within, but if one thing is for sure, it’s that after Venom inhabits Eddie’s body, the film becomes significantly more fun, all in thanks to Tom Hardy.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Besides a few little additions that don’t always work well tonally with the film, such as Eminem’s Venom, the film relies heavily on an older fashioned score. It has a score resembling those from older superhero films such as Ghost Rider and Daredevil. The inclusion of pop music throughout doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the film in the sound department. However the effects are those of a classic sci-fi film, and some fit flawlessly into the feature, although others suffer drastically from a miscalculation of the proper noise to meld with the equivalent action on screen.
The rating shouldn’t matter, but the PG13 rating revenants throughout, making me question every scene and wishing that it would have gone the extra step to make it appropriately bloody. It’s certainly not as impactful when Venom or Riot slaughters someone and no gore spurts out of any of the corpse’s appendages. While the CGI may be strong in some scenes, the Venom tentacles that leak from Eddie’s body are showcased as unusually cartoony as well as the fully formed symbiotes. Even occasional backdrops don’t function well, as they were obviously added in post. It’s laughable during a scene where Venom transforms back to Eddie in front of Anne. The lack of blood in the film is irritating, especially in a scene where Carlton Drake says “...you’re bleeding all over my lab,” yet there is no blood anywhere to be seen. The symbiotes final fight between Venom and Riot is a thrilling scene, however the CGI tilts back & forth in quality, leaving it to become terribly outdated, in the same vein as that of Hulk or even The Incredible Hulk.
Let’s get something straight: Venom is a bad movie. But it’s also a fun one, and one that makes me hope for a more fulfilling sequel. If all of the above descriptions sound unsatisfying to you and you’re in the mood for a great Venom film, with zero Venom, look no further than Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade to conquer that fix.
Upon a second viewing, Venom feels much more cohesive, ultimately declaring itself as a schlocky good time, even if the plot may rank amongst some of the worst recent entries in the comic book genre.