Sometimes I wonder why Sony always has to have some kind of problems when it’s being related to Spider-Man. They pretty much ruined three movies, and it from the looks of their newest PG-13 Marvel adaptation Venom could be one of them. But will the low expectations that’s been brewing for a year for a movie without Spider-Man be decent? Most would agree not.
What’s the Story?: Reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is investigating what’s going on about a shady company, Life Foundation, and its billionaire founder Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). As he investigates, he is infected with an alien symbiote named “Venom”, which latches onto him and gives him superpowers.
Normally anytime a comic book movie comes out, excited would be the correct term when it’s towards me; this wasn’t it when a standalone Venom movie was announced. Why’s that? Because the idea of this antihero movie not taking place in the MCU sounded like a bad idea from Sony. The character of Venom is well-known for being the most popular Spider-Man villain in the comics. But the curiosity was all that was concerning me when this was actually happening and Zombieland‘s Ruben Fleischer taking charge of this property. Because didn’t we all want to forget that they completely forced him in Spider-Man 3 with the miscast Topher Grace 11 years ago?
Went into Venom just not expecting a lot, and walked out not completely hating it like every other critic, but it still wasn’t good for many reasons.
To start off with the positives, it doesn’t come at anyone’s surprise that Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock was ultimately the saving grace. He looked like he had fun even when working with a bad script and he’s really the only actor who actually looked like he cared about being in this. Even so, there were times where the character comes off as unlikable in the first act and has some weird scenes in between. He does lend some credibility to certain movies. Unfortunately, that’s where the good things end.
Probably the biggest negative that “Venom” really has is the script by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel. There’s something about the story that doesn’t feel complete and we’re waiting for something big to happen, and it offers little. It’s almost like they and Fleischer didn’t know how to treat the source material in any way, especially with the boring first act. The shifting tone is what causes that when it wants to feel like a funny relationship with Eddie and Venom to trying to take itself seriously the next second.
The relationship between Eddie and Venom (voiced by Hardy) was only decent at best. From those who read the comics will know it comes as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation when Eddie’s the only person who hears Venom making him seem crazy. Disappointing to say that it didn’t come off as entertaining for me since it took a while for Venom to actually appear. Most of the humor comes from those back-and-forth moments and it really didn’t land for me. Unfortunately, this didn’t go for some kind of horror-vibe that the trailers made it out to be.
Aside from Hardy, every supporting character is completely dry. Michelle Williams plays Eddie’s ex-fiancée Anne, and it’s staggering to figure out why she agreed to be in this when she doesn’t give much to work with and having no good chemistry between her and Hardy? Paycheck, probably. Ahmed’s Drake is played out as a generic villain with the stupidest plan to have these aliens from space to merge with the perfect human. Didn’t care one bit about what’s going on in the Life Foundation and the motivation behind it. His performance was just an almost a laughably bad performance overall.
Much of the action thrown in here didn’t leave any captivation when you already know how it’s going to end. It took a while for anything to happens to the point it felt boring afterward. Nothing was really memorable since it felt tamed or not exciting.
The CGI isn’t all that impressive either. I say the look of Venom is pretty accurate with the long tongue and all, but not much else. This has a budget of $100 million and that’s the best thing they come up with? It becomes very apparent during the big climax that it’s really fake and you can’t tell what’s going on. You know it’s funny when “Deadpool 2” even made a joke about big CGI fights in that movie.
There is one question that’s been discussed with talking about Venom: Could have this been better if they went for the R-rating? It wouldn’t make any big difference, much like if it was involved in the MCU. The fact that it cut down to a PG-13 tainted the whole thing for fans since it’s what they wanted for a long time. Scenes, where Venom is biting people’s heads off, weren’t shown because it needed to be blood free. Venom would’ve likely still been successful if it gained an R-rating. Maybe if there was some kind of extended cut (not that I’m gonna watch this again), it could show the missing 40 minutes that were cut out that Hardy said.
It’s not that I was disappointed with Venom, but this needed to prove me wrong. None of the trailers that were released weren’t exactly good ranging from meh to just not impressed whatsoever. And yes, the last scene was shown in the trailer. Quit doing that, Sony! Venom was an unnecessary movie to happen in the first place and this is the first step in Sony’s Marvel universe featuring other Spider-Man villains. Will this get a sequel? Look apparent at the box office numbers.
In the end, Venom came off as a mess that might find mildly entertaining from a different viewpoint. It doesn’t make for a fun origin story when the filmmaking comes off as unimpressive or memorable. There’s a good movie in here somewhere if this had a much better story executed in here to give one of my favorite actors to work with. Wanna watch Hardy play a villain? Just watch The Dark Knight Rises where he plays Bane; that’s a great movie to sit through more than this.
Luckily, this wasn’t the level of awful like 2015’s Fantastic Four or any of the other terrible comic books movies from the early 2000s, but it’s pretty much as bland as everyone would figure. Contender for worst comic book movie of 2018? Seems very likely.
Venom may have given us a good Tom Hardy performance, but his adaptation of the famous Marvel anti-hero has problems all around from the tone, bad CGI and a plot that isn’t worth the time to honestly care about.