“Venom” stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott. Released on October 5, 2018, the film is about a journalist who comes into contact with an alien symbiote that gives its host superpowers.
The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who also directed “Zombieland”, “30 Minutes or Less”, and “Gangster Squad”. It is based on the Marvel character of the same name by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane. Spider-Man has faced a lot of strange enemies throughout the years, ranging from the Green Goblin to a muscular half-man, half-rhino being. However, there is one enemy that’s not only stranger than the other enemies, but also creepy as heck. That enemy is none other than Venom. Venom is known to be one of Spider-Man’s formidable foes because of his ability to embrace its host’s inner darkness as well as giving them superpowers. This Marvel character was first introduced in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” more than a decade ago, which was considered to be a disappointing conclusion to one of the finest superhero trilogies ever from Spider-Man fans. Since then, he hasn’t returned to the big screen in any shape or form…until now. Serving as a potential introduction to Sony’s version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this latest superhero film is hoping to do this anti-hero justice and not wind up like DC’s own anti-hero spin-off, “Catwoman” in terms of reception and box office. Even though I’m familiar with Venom via “Spider-Man 3” and the Marvel television shows, I will be reviewing it as its own film just in case there are others who haven’t heard of the character to begin with.
The film is a basic superhero origin story that involves Eddie Brock (Hardy), a journalist who investigates a research facility lead by Carlton Drake (Ahmed). He discovers that Drake is conducting illegal experiments that require symbiotic lifeforms to bond with human beings. In an attempt to gather evidence, Brock unknowingly becomes possessed by one of the symbiotes. Now he must learn how to harness its powers in order to stop Drake from harming more people. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is how it explores Venom’s origins without the involvement of Spider-Man. Spider-Man is usually the main reason why Venom exists in the first place, and having to retell his origin story without the web-slinging hero seems pretty odd, but at the same time, it feels refreshing to see one of the Spider-Man villains hog the spotlight for once. Was it a great representation of the title character? Well, it depends on what you’re expecting it to be. If you’re hoping for it to be as good as the origin films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’re setting yourself up for a major disappointment. However, if you’re expecting it to be an average anti-hero film that’s more tolerable than “Catwoman”, this film somewhat delivers. The plot itself is pretty straightforward mostly due to the cliches that we’ve experienced in other superhero origin movies, but there were also plenty of intriguing elements that weren't executed properly, including the partnership between Eddie and Venom. I guess if the writers took the chance to expand those elements a bit more without making the film too long, it would’ve made both the story and the characters much more believable and engaging than what I have seen now. Despite this major issue, it offered a good amount of entertainment values to prevent itself from being consumed by the symbiote. Tom Hardy was enjoyable in his role as Eddie Brock even though there were a couple of parts where his acting fell a bit flat. He didn’t reach the same performance levels as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man or Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, but he had a few amusing moments to keep his character from being bland. Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed were also suitable as Anne Weying and Carlton Drake, respectively, in spite of the latter being a mediocre and cliched Marvel villain. Speaking of amusing, the film attempted to insert some humor into its dark tone, and the result was mixed at best. There were a couple of parts that made me laugh out loud, especially the ones that involve Eddie and Venom, but sometimes the film can be a bit more goofy than scary, so it might not be for anybody who didn’t like this type of humor. It definitely had some moments that may frighten the young kids, so it might be a good thing that they included some goofy humor into the mix. The film also delivered some action sequences that were fun, intense, and well-executed, except the final battle. The final battle sequence was pretty thrilling, don’t get me wrong. It’s just the fact that it’s so swift and chaotic that it made itself hard for me to see what the heck is going on. Having it set during the nighttime doesn’t help that much, either. It’s not the worst action sequence I’ve seen, but it’s definitely something that they should improve on if they’re moving forward with another “Venom” movie. I would also give this film credit for its effective use of visual effects, mostly the character designs for the symbiotes. The accurate design for Venom was honestly my personal highlight of the entire film. It was exactly how I imagined Venom would look like in live-action. Plus, it’s a much better design than the one in “Spider-Man 3”.
Overall, it didn’t provide that much of a challenge to the Spider-Man films in terms of story, but “Venom” has enough qualities to keep its host alive. While it lacked the ability to explore more of the plot’s key elements, the film compensates by showcasing Tom Hardy’s performance, its entertaining action sequences, and the visuals. It’s understandable that it may not be what people are hoping for, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I enjoyed every minute of it, but if Sony really wants to move forward with this type of cinematic universe, they got to make some major adjustments in order to get more audiences into their seats, especially the stories. If you’re a fan of “Venom”, I would say that it’s worth a watch, either in the theater or as a rental. Also, make sure you stay through the credits for two post-credit scenes, including the one that hints at a possible sequel.
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