A film with big teeth but little bite
Sony has stumbled for years trying to get a foothold in the cash cow that are superhero movies. They failed twice with The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and now they are trying again by bringing the popular anti-hero Venom to the big screen. While they’ve marginally improved with Venom, they still have a ways to go before they create something great.
The movie starts with a spaceship carrying a mysterious payload. Upon re-entry into the atmosphere, the ship crashes into earth, and the cargo turns out to be a set of mysterious alien symbiotes. A reporter by the name of Eddie Brock gets more than he bargained for when he investigates; after accidentally merging with one of the parasites, Brock becomes the monstrous creature Venom.
One of Venom’s challenges is that it works against itself.
The Marvel films aren’t gritty — they have fun while playing it safe. Venom is no different. The plot is bare bones, what separates it from other superhero films is its atmosphere. The film has an uneasy tension to it, given that its titular character is a murdering ravenous monster. A close comparison might be Deadpool, though in Venom there’s less bloodshed and less humour. The limits of being PG-13 are pushed by Venom, and the film may have benefited from diving headfirst into a full R rating.
One of Venom’s challenges is that it works against itself. Every interesting idea is met by an opposing lazy decision. Venom bites heads off and looks great — cool. Fight scenes are dark and hard to comprehend — not so cool. Characters have unexpected and interesting relationships — creative. The villain has a god-complex and underestimates the forces he is dealing with — generic. It’s as though the writing staff embodied Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The overall tone of the film changes on the fly. There are humorous scenes juxtaposing horror scenes. What little sci-fi elements exist in the film never get explored satisfactorily. Action sequences are ham-fisted into the script like afterthoughts when they should have been one of the main focuses.
Deciding if this movie was good or bad results in a headache, as there are both admirable and deplorable qualities.
Though everything about this oddball movie sounds silly, the performances are actually one of the film’s strengths. Eddie Brock/Venom (played by Tom Hardy) is fun to watch, especially when he banters with the evil extra-terrestrial living inside him. Hardy is no newcomer to portraying quirky comic book characters: in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy played Bane, a hard-to-understand towering pillar of man muscle who brings chaos to the city around him. In Venom, Hardy mimics his previous role as Bane, this time portraying a hard-to-understand towering pillar of alien muscle who brings chaos to the city around him.
Brock/Venom’s love interest in the film is Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams). Williams’ skills could have been used far more in the movie — it feels as though her scenes were cut to save time. A shame, considering she is one of the most talented actors in the cast. When on screen, she is not the typical damsel in distress, often being the one who has to come in and save Brock. Venom’s strong suit is its characters, and Anne Weying is one of the film’s strongest — if not the best.
Deciding if this movie was good or bad results in a headache, as there are both admirable and deplorable qualities. Super fans of Venom love the movie, critics hate it, and there are an overwhelming amount of people in between those two extremes. And that’s what Venom is: just okay. There are some interesting ideas surrounded by mediocrity, stopping Venom from being the standout film it could have been. In a few years, it will undoubtedly join the legions of other forgettable superhero movies out there in the world.