Venom Movie Review


Photo provided by Sony Pictures

Dante Bernhardt, Video Editor

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

Venom, directed by Ruben Fleischer of Zombieland and Gangster Squad, is the first inclusion and test-run of Sony’s new superhero shared universe aptly named the “SUMC,” or “Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters,” where the focus lies on Spider-Man’s antagonists.

The film stars Tom Hardy, the British film actor and producer who was featured in critical hits such as The Dark Knight Rises and Dunkirk. Hardy plays the character Eddie Brock, an investigative reporter who loses his career, finances, and well-being after attempting to pry a confession for inhumane experiments out of Carlton Drake, an eccentric genius and the CEO of the Life Foundation played by Riz Ahmed. After his suspicions were validated, Brock infiltrates the Life Foundation’s headquarters and encounters alien “symbiotes.” He bonds to a symbiote named Venom to stop Drake.

Throughout its run-time, Venom achieves virtually nothing in terms of film-making and depth. Superhero movies can often be bland and created solely for profit, and Venom falls into this category of disappointments.

Marvel usually takes classic comic books and transforms them into movies with deeper messages and interesting visuals. Films such as Ant-Man and Black Panther carry themes such as family and responsibility that remains important through multiple viewings of the films. Venom lacks that level of connectivity, depth, and importance.

In my opinion, a majority of the movie is bathed — or more accurately drowned — in early 2000’s dialogue. An interesting fight scene involving a squad of SWAT officers and a violent, angry Venom was the only exception. The script, by writers Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinket, is a mess of tone and genres. One minute, the story reads as a comedy between the duo, and in the next, heads are being torn off and swallowed. Even the satisfaction of seeing the slaughter is subdued by the PG-13 rating, which was added to the movie only two months before its release, I presume for more ticket sales.

Michelle Williams, an Oscar-nominated actress, plays an unfulfilling role as Eddie Brock’s estranged fiancee. Many of her lines are remarkably awkward, which is an embarrassment compared to the beautiful, soul-crushing scenes she is a part of in Manchester by the Sea. Riz Ahmed’s talent from Oscar-nominated film Nightcrawler, is similarly buried by a bland third act, which morphs a potentially sympathetic antagonist to nothing more than a punching bag for Venom.

Venom, despite my large criticisms, does have some redeeming qualities. One example being that Venom is artfully played by Hardy. Under any other actor, Venom would be an unlikable and utterly strange character, but under Hardy’s skill, the character is a joy to watch throughout the film. Venom’s comical internal arguments that discuss whether or not eating cops is ethical would fall flat without Hardy’s charisma.

The quality of the film is fitting of a popcorn-flick that is enjoyable to view with friends. However, the script does capture the dynamic between partners, a feat that many other films fail to do. The dynamic between Venom and Eddie Brock’s partnership is interesting and, at times, hilarious. I do not typically burst out laughing during movies, but Venom had me a couple of times.

Venom may not have been the critical success many fans hoped for, but the film is a good stepping-off point for Sony to develop their own universe.

I rate the movie a 4.6/10.