Venom – Film Review

Venom – Film Review by Fran Winston

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Scott Rosenberg (screenplay by), Jeff Pinkner (screenplay by)
Stars: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Marcella Bragio
Spider-man’s nemesis appearing in a movie without Spider-man was always going to be controversial. The character is so indelibly linked to the webslinger that fans were curious as to how he was going to carry a movie on his own. After all as an alien symbiote whose first host in the comic books was in fact Spider-Man, the two are like yin and yang. If you don’t know what an alien symbiote is then this probably isn’t the movie for you. They’re basically an alien parasite that requires human hosts to survive.

Since this is a comic book movie obviously the plot is based in pure science fiction and involves an unethical bio-engineering company trying to bond the symbiotes with vagrants who die from the strain. When an investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) uncovers what’s going on he tries to expose their scheme only to find himself “infected” by Venom who wants the two of them to live in harmony despite his penchant for ingesting living creatures.

Hardy is actually great here playing both sides of the character. Even in some of the most ludicrous scenes (and it’s a comic book movie so there are a few) he manages to remain believable. However, all the other actors feel somewhat wasted. Williams in particular has little to do except simper. Given her fantastic acting pedigree this does beg the question what were they thinking.

The end result is an extremely disjointed piece that jumps from plot point to plot point with no consistent segues. The original aim for this apparently was to get an R rating making it akin to Deadpool, but it has ended up with a PG 13 rating. By default, it feels as if all the best stuff ended up on the cutting room floor to make it more palatable for a younger audience. While the effects are great the story is seriously lacking and even Hardy has said that the best 30-40 minutes ended up being cut. Even the fact that Venom’s MO changes midway through the movie is inexplicable as there is no indication of this or build up to it.

They seem to have missed the central point of the movie, which is the Eddie/Venom relationship, to instead concentrate on several secondary characters that you don’t care about. Also, given the glut of comic book adaptations we’ve been exposed to over the past few years, audiences expect more. They expect their heroes and anti-heroes to have heart but that is seriously lacking here.

Don’t get me wrong – it is extremely funny in parts and Hardy has some great moments. But overall it doesn’t work and this really feels down to the editing. It is very disjointed and you get the impression that underneath this so-so movie is a fantastic film waiting to break out. If the filmmakers had been allowed to stick with the R rating this could have been extremely entertaining. Instead, it feels disjointed and directionless. Hardy’s central performance is worth a watch but other than that this won’t be joining the annals of classic comic book fare. There is a plan for sequels so let’s hope they learn from their mistakes in this movie.

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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