Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate
Run-time: 2hr and 20 min Rated PG-13
Venom has been a “dark horse” of sorts pretty much since it was announced a few years ago. The thought of Sony making a stand alone film with one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes without everyone’s favorite wall-crawler even making an appearance seemed destined for failure. The movie’s outlook improved only slightly when the talented Tom Hardy was announced as taking on the lead role of investigative journalist turned alien powered anti-hero: Eddie Brock.
Fast forward to 2018 and we are now into the third week of its theatrical run. Despite opening to a more than expected thrashing by movie critics, something unexpected has happened. Venom is actually a damn fun time.
As word of mouth spreads, Venom has broken records and become a box office hit (currently having raked in over $400 million).
I went in expecting to be disappointed with a mediocre action CGI-fest and was shocked at how much I enjoyed the film. Not only that, but I’m also looking forward to the already announced sequel.
Let me be clear: Venom is light years behind 95% of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a clunky story that suffers from several issues.
Despite that, the movie makes you look past all of its flaws with a relatable anti-hero and his strange but endearing bond with Venom that is entertaining to see develop. It’s a solid attempt on Sony’s part of bringing the character to the big screen and a hell of a lot better than the garbage we were given, shoe-horned in at the end of 2007’s Spider-Man 3 (I’m looking at you, Topher Grace):
It’s no secret that Hardy is a brilliant actor and he was a smart choice for Eddie Brock. While I’m a huge fan of his work normally, I was definitely questioning the decision based on the first trailer, as the accent he was going for didn’t seem to work nor did he come across as a believable reporter.
Now, having seen the movie, I think a lot of that was a result of poor editing choices in the trailer. He feels like a much better fit in the actual film, minus a few scenes, and actually has a sort of awkward charm that helps make his character relatable and endearing. The first trailer also butchered the pronounciation of “symbiote,” but I was releaved to see they fixed it for the film.
Interestingly, he’s also the voice of Venom, proving once again he’s the cinematic master of weird voices. Hardy explained in an interview how they created and implemented Venom’s voice into the scenes.
The relationship / bonding moments between Eddie and Venom are hands down the most enjoyable parts of the movie. The interactions are so fun that it’s a shame more time was devoted to pre-Venom setup and not more so to these moments.
This a long movie at 2hrs and 20 mins, but the time flies by. Another 15-20 more mins of Eddie and Venom time would not have been a bad thing.
The rest of the cast worked but could have been better. Riz Ahmed was a supreme dick as the villanous head of the “Life Foundation”, though he really never came across as menacing or as powerful as he was supposed to be. He’s just a dick…with money to waste on irrational science experiments.
Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate were fine, but could have been given more to do. Williams, who plays Eddie’s girlfriend, does have one awesome moment towards the 3rd act but by time you realize what’s happening, it’s over.
The action scenes are well done and there are a couple solid fights. A car chase involving Venom made for some great stunts and effects. I do think Venom would have benefited from an R rating. I understand that the studio wants to make as much money as possible, however this is another example where the more adult rating fits the character. Movies like Logan and Deadpool prove if done right, studios can still make tons of money with an R rating.
I think much of the negative reviews by critics comes from not really understanding the personality of the source material. Possibly, they went in expecting a dark and gritty film, almost bordering horror and didn’t know what to do with the hybrid action/comedy with an alien creature making childish jokes about eating people. He does have an off kilter sense of humor and some of Venom’s comedic lines were actually ripped straight from the comics:
The plot is the movie’s biggest stumbling block. It isn’t terrible…but it isn’t amazing either. It feels like a trip back in time to a 90’s superhero flick. That may be in large part due to the director drawing heavily from the 1993 Venom comic arc “Lethal Protector.” The issue is this story features Spidey in the comics and you can tell Sony stumbled around trying to figure out how to redo the story without him. They actually did a respectable job all things considered, but it is hard not to think about how much better it could have been.
With the financial success of this one maybe the sequel could have a least a guest appearance from Spider-Man…if only long enough for Venom to gain his signature white symbol and ability to shoot his own version of webs.
There are two after credits scenes: the one at the very end is only worth watching if you’re interested in Sony’s upcoming “Into the Spider-Verse” Animated film as there’s a short clip for it.
I won’t spoil who the actor is, but the middle credits scene is where it’s at, teasing the villain of the Venom sequel: Cletus Kasady aka Carnage.
Overall, while Venom could have been a much better movie and has several issues, the relationship between Eddie and Venom makes you forget the film’s short comings and just have a great time.
Cinematic Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Fun Factor: 4.5 out of 5
Worth the price of admission: 3.5 out of 5
Re-watch Value: 3.5 out of 5
Overall Score – 3.75 body part Venom snacks out of 5