When disgraced investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) decides to investigate the shady goings on of businessman Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), which involve integrating alien parasites to human test subjects, killing them soon afterwards, he unwittingly becomes the stable host body for one of the symbiotes, later identifying itself as the incredibly powerful, destructive and deadly “Venom”, and Brock must quickly learn how to live with the bloodthirsty being within him while also having to work with it in order to prevent a catastrophic invasion by other symbiotes.
First of all, I was all too aware of the general negative buzz surrounding this film going in; the general vibe of the film was that it was some kind of toxic sludge – a terrible film that was unworthy to be on in the same week as the lovely A Star is Born. But I still wanted to see it for myself as I’m of course interested in Marvel films (plus, a Limitless card combined with a day off work didn’t hurt, either) and I told myself that there were plenty of other hated films that I either actually liked or at least didn’t think they deserved all the hate and negative press (Fant4stic Four, The Snowman etc). So you never know.
And after having seen Venom, I’d say that this is another film where the hate train has just gotten a little out of hand because, aside from some issues with the story as well as some misplaced humour, the film is a perfectly decent piece of cinema entertainment. Similar to something like Alien vs. Predator, it takes its time at the beginning with a basic, semi-interesting story, the type that we can expect from a blockbuster film, but when things kick off, we get what we paid for; with AVP, we had Aliens against Predators galore and with Venom, we get plenty of the Venom-y carnage that we came to see. Toned down though it may be.
Well, it’s better than Spider-Man 3 anyway!
Because even though the film takes the necessary amount of time to put all the pieces into place before it actually starts Venom-ing, the action sequences involving Tom Hardy and the troublesome symbiote (new band name! Called it!) provide enough high octane entertainment for the popcorn munching crowd to take in and the main sequences involving the first demonstration of Venom’s abilities, the motorbike getaway, and a showdown against a roomful of armed officers bring Venom to life and these sequences sure ain’t boring.
The main problem with the film would probably be that the story is average at best as it doesn’t bring anything original or overly imaginative to the genre, the script is basic, and in some instances, it doesnt make a whole deal of sense; the villain’s endgame is hardly Infinity War calibre and the symbiote’s sudden willingness to turn against his own kind and help “save the day”, bafflingly becoming a “frenemy” when before he was much more of a threat, doesn’t properly ring true. And another area where the film goes wrong is its misuse of humour; there’s an attempt to include some dark humour, mainly through the things that Venom says to Eddie, but nearly all of this falls completely flat and the forced “banter” often comes across as embarrassing.
In the pivotal role, the great Tom Hardy is a good sport playing the jittery, moralistic good guy Eddie Brock, trying his hardest with the film’s troublesome humour and, with his solid New York accent, he’s overall supportable enough as our main protagonist/anti-hero. Alongside, Michelle Williams handles herself well and doesn’t lose any street cred, playing a bit of a thankless “girlfriend” character that probably could’ve been played by anybody, and Riz Ahmed is alright as the film’s villain, although Carlton Drake is an undeniably cookie cutter antagonist, hardly the most memorable comic book villain you’ll ever see.
Although most have commented that the effects in Venom look decidedly unappealing, the CGI on display in the film is not that bad at all (definitely not as abysmal as something like Suicide Squad!) and big, bad Venom is as manically intimidating and hulking as you’d expect. The film does end on a familiar CG slugfest though and it ultimately disappoints because it’s far too difficult to figure out just what is going on and although the final boss is set up to be an incredibly tough opponent, one whose abilities initially make the symbiote take pause, he’s actually not that impressive and as far as CG baddies go, he’s forgettable. Think Hulk vs. Abomination in The Incredible Hulk.
Finally, Venom has two post credits scenes but they’re not good at all. The first one is meant to set up a future instalment and features a big name actor in a terrible wig, playing a character who I’ve never heard of, and the last one, strangely, is simply a “sneak peek” at an upcoming, and highly anticipated, comic book movie but it really has nothing to do with Venom at all. Why the heck was it included?