With Spider-Man now doing his own thing within the MARVEL Cinematic Universe, Sony is now trying its luck once again with their own version of a shared cinematic universe with the recent release of “Venom” and with the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, which will be released later this year. And while some of us are quite hyped about the latter, let’s focus on this universe’s version of Venom, who is played wonderfully well by Tom Hardy. This film does seem to make us forget the last version of the character we saw, and features a fun performance by Tom Hardy. However, there isn’t much meat in the main story and the rest of the movie is outshone by Hardy’s performance and the action sequences.
“Venom” was released in the first week of October, and garnered a solid box office number for its preview screening and opening night, despite its Rotten Tomato’s score. Based on the comic book character of the same name, the film was directed by Ruben Fleischer. Its screenplay was written by Jeff Plinker, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel.
The film follows investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) whose life gets destroyed in an instant after confronting Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the CEO of the Life Foundation, about the alleged cases against the company due to illegal human experimentation, which Brock found about indirectly through his fiancee, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), who works for the Life Foundation. A couple of months later, he is approached by Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), a researcher for the Life Foundation, as she decided to expose the illegal experiments that Drake was conducting on homeless people- introducing them to alien symbiotes that the foundation found in outer space. However, while investigating, one of the symbiotes bonds with Brock, and the rest is history. The rest of the film follows Brock as he discovers that his life is now connected with the symbiote called Venom, and as they try to find a common ground to work with each other moving forward.
For those who might be lamenting the fact that this movie was given a PG rating, there was actually a pretty high body count, however, they didn’t really show anything graphic or gory. However, despite that, the action sequences were good, especially when Venom came into the picture.
Aside from the action sequences and the symbiote special effects, what made this movie really work was Hardy’s double performance as Brock and as the voice of Venom. Hardy just ran with the character, and because of this, their dynamic with each other was great and really funny. And although there weren’t a lot of emotional beats that really deepened their relationship with each other, I like that they were able to add some character work and progression with regards to their relationship with each other. Hardy knew exactly what kind of movie he was in and ran with it, and that’s what makes the movie enjoyable and is able to stand on very shaky legs. Because of this, I do wish that the Director’s Cut or the Blu Ray will add those thirty or forty minutes worth of footage that ended up on the cutting floor, that Hardy mentioned contained the best parts of the film.
The rest of the movie, unfortunately, had no meat to sink our teeth into. The main plot was nothing special, and tonally, it did feel like two different movies. At first it seemed to be a dark thriller involving a shady millionaire genius, and then it became more of a buddy cop movie, the latter of which was truly enjoyable. The pacing was also all over the place, and there were no emotional beats or any defining moments that truly makes the movie stand out.
Ahmed felt very stiff as the villain, and we weren’t really able to get to see much of his motivations and character to even want to try to hate him. Slate was tragically underused; and Williams was bland, while wearing a very ill-fitting wig.
However, despite all of my gripes, it wasn’t a horrible movie, and is still very much a good time at the cinema, thanks to Hardy’s performance.
Also, pro tip, stay until the VERY, VERY END for the post-credits scene. The mid-credits scene was just alright, but it was the post-credits scene that really got my attention.
Now, you know the drill! From here on out, there will be spoilers!
As everyone has already mentioned, this movie is definitely worth watching because of Tom Hardy’s performance. He ran with the character and played it more like a buddy cop movie, which is why the banter with Venom works, and where the comedic tone of the movie comes from. It’s pretty amazing how Hardy plays really well off of himself, and it was interesting and hilarious that we got to be privvy to Venom’s inner thoughts and desires.
I also liked the fact that even though there were no emotional beats for us to really invest in this relationship between Venom and Brock, that there was enough development and progression in their relationship with each other throughout the movie. It went from parasite using the unknowing Brock, to Brock reluctantly partnering up with Venom so that they can both get what they want, to Brock not trusting him a bit, to Brock and Venom being on the same page willingly. I also liked that their bond grew to the point that he would miss Venom if he did die, but thankfully, Venom isn’t gone yet, not for the foreseeable future. I also liked that Brock is trying to school Venom on what’s right and wrong and to eat the bad guys and not the good guys, and I’m looking forward to this kind of progress in Venom’s character if they do green light a sequel.
Unfortunately, the rest of the characters in the movie were either underused, completely bland, and just served as plot devices. Ahmed was too stiff, and his character’s motivations weren’t really too clear, and I wish we could have had more scenes with him and Riot to be able to understand why he would willingly bond with a symbiote like that. Willaim’s Annie was just a plot device wearing a really bad wig, and so was Slate, who was very much underutilized.
However, despite that, it’s not a complete mess, nor is it completely unwatchable. Just don’t expect something mind-blowing when you watch this movie.
The mid-credits sequence was pretty underwhelming, but it was an interesting way to set things up for a potential sequel with Carnage, whose host is Kletus Cassady (Woody Harrelson).
The post-credits sequence, however, and how the segued into it, was fun. They actually showed an entire scene from the upcoming “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, which looked fantastic, and segued into it by saying “meanwhile…in another universe…”, in order to imply that all the events in that film are happening in another universe within this new Venom/Spiderverse.
So, in a nutshell, if you like Tom Hardy, you definitely should watch this movie. Fans of the actual Venom character might be put off by the new backstory, but keep an open mind, don’t expect too much, and expect it to be a little bit of a buddy cop movie, and you’ll be fine. Thankfully, it isn’t unwatchable, as Tom Hardy manages to carry the movie on his own back, even though its not good enough to jumpstart a shared cinematic universe.