It’s weird seeing a Venom origin story that does not feature Spider-Man. Readers of the Marvel comic books will be aware that Venom started life as Peter Parker’s black organic suit. The couple eventually broke up, as Venom became too clingy. Spidey doesn’t appear at all in this two-hour live action flick. The reason? Sony has currently loaned him out to Marvel Studios. That’s disappointing, but on the plus side the film can boast having the very talented Tom Hardy in the lead role. Ruben Fleischer is the movie’s director. His past work includes Zombieland, a cartoon about undead pop idol singers.
Eddie Brock is an award-winning investigative reporter. No idea how he won a prize for journalism, given that the movie presents him as a buffoon. In the opening act, Eddie has the gall to accuse entrepreneur Carlton Drake of running a company that conducts inhumane experiments. Eddie’s claims are not backed by a shred of evidence, so it’s no surprise when he is subsequently fired by the news station he works for. Only when he is in the unemployment line does Eddie decide to search for proof. Under the cover of dusk, he infiltrates a research lab affiliated with Drake’s Life Foundation.
There he finds a trio of alien parasites that the group seized from a wandering comet. One of the creatures ends up bonding with Eddie, transforming him into the titular anti-hero. Venom possesses the looks of Spawn and the tongue of Gene Simmons. For the remainder of the film Eddie battles against mercenaries, who have been hired by Drake to retrieve the specimen he unwittingly stole. A second foe appears late on in the movie. Said antagonist is a fellow Symbiote named Riot, who landed on Earth a few months prior, and has since been murdering anyone who gets in his way.
My rating for Venom is a three out of five. In my opinion, the movie doesn’t deserve all the hate that most professional critics have heaped upon it. That said, Venom is merely entertaining. It’s not on the level of what Marvel Studios usually puts out. Even when compared to other third-party superhero releases, it is a grade below Deadpool, Logan and the first two Raimi directed Spider-Man films. Audiences may be caught off guard by the script’s tone. Venom’s creepy design and appetite for human heads seems perfect for an R-Rated horror. What we get however is a standard PG-13 superhero tale that is heavy on slapstick.
For some, that will be a missed opportunity and potential deal breaker. I personally didn’t mind the more light-hearted direction taken by the creators. The best scenes were not the moments of violence, but rather the times when Venom and his human host engaged in humorous banter. On the visual side of things, it’s good to see a bulky Venom onscreen. The character design is more faithful to the source material than Venom’s appearance in Spider-Man 3. I found the quality of the CG effects to be a mixed bag. At times it looked cool. The final battle was a bit of a mess though. Akin to a Transformers fight, it’s hard to follow as it features two similar looking characters tangling with each other.
Venom isn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it. The credits tease a potential sequel that I would be up for watching. Sony could have a hit on their hands, if the follow-up manages to inject a bit more action to the mix and beefs up the writing in terms of characterisation. Hardy’s performance carries the movie, as no one else stood out. Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams play the villain and love interest respectively. Both are decent actors but struggled to make an impression due to the lack of material they had to work with. Don’t expect either of them to get Venom-inated for an Oscar.