Just when it seemed that the superhero film genre is a well that has constantly been tapped and run dry, Sony Pictures sucks you right back in with the release of Venom on Friday, October 5, 2018.
The first film in Sony’s Marvel Universe, not connected with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Venom is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland 2009, 30 Minutes or Less 2011) from a screenplay by Scott Rosenberg (Con Air 1997, High Fidelity 2000), Jeff Pinkner (Fringe series, The Dark Tower 2017), and Kelly Marcel (Terra Nova series, Fifty Shades of Grey 2015). An antihero story, it stars Tom Hardy (Inception 2010, The Dark Knight Rises 2012) as Eddie Brock/Venom, alongside Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine 2010, Take This Waltz 2011) as Brock’s girlfriend Anne Weying, Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler 2014, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016) as the evil Carlton Drake/Riot, Scott Haze (Child of God 2013, Midnight Special 2016) as Security Chief Roland Treece, and Reid Scott (Motorcity series, Veep series) as Dr. Dan Lewis. So, is it worth heading out to the theater for yet another film of this elk?
Centering around Eddie Brock, he acquires the unique and unusual powers of the symbiote. An investigative journalist, Eddie has been trying to take out the highly intelligent Carlton Drake, the founder of Life Foundation, a bio-engineering corporation which discovers four symbiotic lifeforms and brings them back to Earth. For those who have never read the comic and have no idea what in the world a symbiote is, it has no relation to the cenobites of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, sorry to disappoint. In the case of Venom’s world, a symbiote is a species of inorganic, amorphous extraterrestrial.
Nonetheless, when Brock investigates one of Drake’s experiments, the alien Venom merges with Eddie’s body. He suddenly has incredible new superpowers, as well as the chance to do just about whatever he wants. In doing so, he will have to release his alter-ego, Venom, to save his own life. The only problem is Venom is dark, erratic, and filled with rage, so will Eddie be able to control it?
Nearly two hours in length, while the first half of Venom comes off as a bit dull and drawn out, for an introduction, it does push the film along to where it needs to be in order to get the action kicked into high gear. As mentioned, around the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-like character of Brock and Venom, Tom Hardy shines in his role of the antihero along with Riz Ahmed as Dr. Carlton Drake when the film reaches its high point. While Hardy and Ahem’s performances are superb, certain roles like that of Anne Weying did not hold as much star power. However, this can be due to how the writers decided to treat some of the story’s female characters.
Ultimately, the plot of Venom is by far the weakest attribute of the film, and that is probably one of the most important. That and dialogue between characters, which is not quite where it needed to be for a film of this stature as well. Additionally, the CGI and action sequences in Venom has its moments where it also does not quite live up to the hype the comic book depicted, often coming off as too congested and confusing to follow.
For example, while the chasing and fight sequences are about as beautiful in terms of keeping the audience on the edge of their seat, a lot of these could have easily been cleaned up before putting them to final production. If you are looking for Venom to have the same stellar graphic fidelity as its predecessors such as Avengers: Infinity War, set your expectations at a rather modest rate, as there is nothing bad about them, but they could have easily been less chaotic.
Overall, while Venom is amazing at times and fun to immerse yourself into, more often than not, it drops the ball, leaving a mess of plot holes and missed information in its wake. Disconcertingly enough, the film never really reaches the comic’s more dark and sinister tones. Although it is not at its core a pure comedy fest, for the PG-13 rating that it was given, there was a good balance of both.
If anything, Venom is neither great nor terrible, compared to what many critics have said. The interactions between Eddie and Venom give a beacon of hope or what this film could have been if Marvel Studios had somewhat stepped in. Leaving you wanting more, but really not as bad a standalone film as you would be led to believe, CrypticRock gives Venom 3 out of 5 stars.