Tom Hardy and His Symbiotic Buddy Save This Clunky Comic Book Film
Venom is the most critically destroyed comic book film since Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad in 2016, and I honestly don’t know why. Sony’s first “Spider-Man-less” universe film is an absolute blast from beginning to end.
The story follows a “down-on-his-luck” reporter, Eddie Brock, whose selfish tendencies put him out of work and engagement. Sound familiar? That’s because it is basically the Peter Parker storyline in Spider-Man 3, but I digress.
A couple nosey, desperate decisions later, Eddie Brock is possessed by Venom and now … eating live lobsters and frozen tater tots. Sound dumb? That’s because it is, ON PURPOSE.
This film has a tone reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s Darkman and Evil Dead 2. The trailers did the film a disservice by teasing a dark, gritty film. Venom is merely an action comedy with some horror elements.
My chief source of blame with the faulty story lies with the “LIFE Foundation” led by Riz Ahmed’s villainous Carlton Drake.
Nothing about this chunk of the story works in the slightest. Full of comic-book scientific mumbo-jumbo, the film makes little effort to help the audience find a logical reason to believe an industry like this would ever exist. It comes off as incredibly rushed and terribly stupid. I didn’t buy it for a second.
Let’s talk about the cast.
Long story short, everyone phones it in except for Tom Hardy, who gives one of the most zany, entertaining performances of the year. Hardy sells the Eddie Brock and Venom relationship perfectly, creating a lovable, and sometimes laugh-out-loud, connection between the two. The movie wouldn’t work without that key dynamic.
Riz Ahmed is a laughably horrible villain. He isn’t menacing in the slightest and has some truly cringe-inducing dialogue. However, his transformation into Riot, the symbiote antagonist, is visually captivating. Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate are fine. They do the best with what they are given and play hilariously straight against Hardy’s insane performance.
It takes around 40 minutes to (finally) get to the action, but when it happens, the movie is the Venom film we’ve always wanted. Venom’s computer-generated appearance is incredibly comic book accurate and stunningly photo-realistic (for the most part). The best thing aspect of Venom is his hilarious banter with Eddie, with some lines having any audience in stitches. Hardy does a spectacular job capturing Venom’s terrifying voice and dark sense of humor.
The action is another huge highlight of the film. It’s extremely well shot, paced, and edited to thrilling results. Without spoiling anything, some surprising moments had my jaw on the floor. Great stuff.
For those who don’t know, the film had two post-credits scenes. (Spoilers ahead…)
The mid-credits is about a two minute scene that alludes to a crazy sequel, and the final scene is a four minute sequence from Sony Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Both, I feel, are worth your time.
In conclusion, the story is generic and bland as can be, but the film as a whole is entertaining as hell. Tom Hardy sells the Eddie Brock/Venom relationship perfectly — to hilarious effect — in and out of the fantastic action sequences. Everyone other than Hardy completely phones it in, especially Riz Ahmed. It’s a great time at the movies and worth the price of admission.