Director Ruben Fleischer’s take on the iconic symbiote character from the Spider-Man universe falls flat on nearly every level.
A corporation known as the Life Foundation begins to experiment with something known as a symbiote, which they quickly find bonds with a human host after testing on multiple people. After reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets the symbiote in his body, he now unleashes a creature known as Venom, which he attempts to use to take down the Life Foundation before their experiments go too far.
When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was released in 2007, many people were surprised to see the character of Brock / Venom present in that film. The unfortunate thing was that he was portrayed Topher Grace strangely. Not only did he not sell the part of Brock / Venom in that role, but a lot of the things he had to do and say were cringe-worthy. So, ever since that film’s release, audiences have been clambering for a good version of the symbiotic character to be portrayed on the big screen.
For the most part, Hardy is decent as Brock / Venom. There are quite a few scenes within the first act mainly where you genuinely do feel sympathy for him. A wave of bad luck washes over him, and you cannot help but feel some sympathy for his character. Unfortunately, however, much like Grace in Spider-Man 3, Hardy does have to say some pretty cringe-worthy things. Luckily he does not have to say nearly as many terrible things in this film however. Sometimes, though, it does seem like Hardy was trying a bit too hard to portray this character, which is unfortunate.
He is a likeable presence in the film, fortunately. For the majority of Venom, he is entertaining to watch on screen, with the exception of a few scenes – in particular, several scenes in which he goes berserk over tater tots and chocolate.
This film is luckily, for the most part, entertaining to watch. There were not too many parts of the film that dragged on for too long, which is great. This film contains some decent action sequences occasionally. Unfortunately, however, there are a couple of scenes, especially towards the end of the third act that ended up being simply lackluster. Another good element to Venom is its cinematography shot by Matthew Libatique. It is an extremely good-looking film for the most part.
Additionally, there are multiple scenes, especially one chase sequence in the second act, where it is blatantly obvious that a stunt double was being used for Hardy. It is kind of ridiculous how the filmmaker’s would think that the viewers would not notice that it is not Hardy during these scenes.
Riz Ahmed portrays Carlton Drake in Venom, the leader of the aforementioned Life Foundation. He is the man behind all the dangerous and deadly symbiote experiments happening at their facility. We constantly see him want to essentially take over the city with symbiotes in humans, as he feels that the human body is a waste. What could have been a layered, and understandable villain instead becomes the epitome of a cliché villain. All he aches for throughout the entire picture is for the symbiote to find many more human hosts. So, basically, his character just exists in Venom to be a standard villain with no motive and nothing to deepen his character with.
Furthermore, Michelle Williams portrays Brock’s girlfriend Anne Weying in this film. Firstly, in the beginning of the film, Brock pronounces her name as “Annie”, but later on pronounces it as “Anne”. Later on in the film, he pronounces it again as “Annie”. It was kind of frustrating. Also, Williams’ character was extremely similar to Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, directed by Marc Webb. In that film, Stacy for the most part stays out of the fight until eventually she informs Peter that she has made the decision to help him out in the third act. Something extremely similar occurs with Weying in Venom. It is so unfortunate that a talented actress like Williams only gets the “girlfriend who worries but eventually joins the fight with the hero” character. Just like Drake, her character could have been so much more rich and layered, but instead falls flat.
Also, Venom‘s pacing is extremely rushed. We constantly go from one scene to the next remarkably fast which was a bit jarring to see. If the film were to have slowed down, we could have gotten much better character development for Ahmed and Williams’ characters, and the story could have had more time to flourish.
One of the most awful moments in Venom however, comes from a couple of scenes in the first act as well as towards the end of the second act. There is a large majority of kissing scenes. The latter being one of the most bizarre and terrible scenes in a film this year so far.
Venom is an extremely forgettable film with under-developed characters, cringe-worthy dialogue, and a story that severely lacks in many regards.
Overall Grade: C-
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Running Time: 112 minutes