There is hardly a more well known Spider-Man for than Venom and it was only a matter of time before Hollywood brought him back to the big screen after his last halfhearted appearance. This time, however the producers have chosen to remove the most important part of the character, Spider-Man himself. Instead, Venom and Eddie Brock stand solo in an interesting adaptation of the source material.
The film itself follows the stories of both Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative journalist who is assigned a puff piece that costs him his career and Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who is a billionaire genius who wants to find a second home for humanity no matter the costs. Carlton finds alien life, brings them back to Earth, only for them all to end up being Symbiotes who were heading to their next conquest, now that they know about Earth, well, Earth is in danger.
Meanwhile Brock is dealing with a broken heart as his fiance has left him for another man and Eddie wants to do everything he can to get her back.
Gone is the origin of Venom as an alternate Spider Suit discovered by Peter Parker on an unknown planet, Gone is the rivalry between reporters Parker and Brock, gone is the dark, evil Symbiote that bonds with the equally dark and brooding bully. In its place, something akin to a shadow or an echo of the Venom we know and love.
Due to his penchant for getting in trouble, Brock stumbles onto the Symbiote Venom in a secure lab only for the creature to bond with him ultimately creating a hybrid human/alien with a split personality. I have to admit though, this union has some of the best dialogue in the film as Eddie and Venom get to know one another. Unlike his comic counterpart, Brock is actually a really nice guy in this film, albeit a stubborn loser which, I guess, makes for a better story as who would want to follow a musclebound jerk on an adventure to save the world?
Much like the change in Brock, comes a change in one of the scariest villains Spider-man has ever faced, this time, Venom is essentially a fearsome space loser who just happens to want to stay on Earth because he likes Brock and… yeah okay, Maybe I’m oversimplifying things a bit.
Everyone in the film seems committed to their roles, with Hardy doing a wonderful job trying to be the heartbroken looser and the keeper of a vicious parasite. He comes across as Hardy does in most of his roles, as a genuine person and one you forget is in fact Tom Hardy playing a role. Sure, it is not the same jerk-faced Eddie Brock from the comics and that is okay, Eddie makes this character his own and does a great job at it. Hardy also gives voice to our title character and does so in a manner befitting the great Tony Todd. He adds a depth and attitude to Venom that is every bit fun and real. Trust me, the film is at it’s best ehen Venom and Eddie have conversations. Everyone else from Eddies ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams) to her new Doctor Boyfriend Dan Lewis (Reid Scott) do a wonderful job with their roles, making every moment they are on the screen believable and pretty solid.
That being said, the films villain is about as frightening as Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. At times you just want one of Carlton Drakes bodyguards to accidentally leave him with one of the symbiotes so it will eat him. Sadly, even when he does get infected, he just becomes that much more of a jerk and is ultimately the reason the Earth is in danger. Riz Ahmed tries to do his best in this role but mostly comes off as a little whiny and prone to temper tantrums not quite to the level of Kylo Ren.
The special effects in this one are way over the top. In every moment we see Venom or any of the other symbiotes, you are pulled from the movie and reminded that this is in fact a film chock full of CGI. While Venom is rendered perfectly to his comic counterpart (minus a key Spider logo), he looks too much like a talking piece of plastic instead of an alien being. Hardy manages a great personality as Venom but in reality, he doesn’t come across as really being there.
The Bottom Line:
This is the age of Super Hero films. Every year more and more films based on comics are being produced, flooding the market with a mix of near Oscar worthy entries to absolute rubbish. Today’s entry is one that fits somewhere in between as neither the best, nor the worst. It is simply…there.
The movie plays out in a fun ‘save the world’ story that honestly isn’t anything we haven’t seen in the past. It is a by-the-numbers superhero story where the hero eats villains heads but with little to no gore in order to keep it’s PG-13 rating…for the kids you know… (Seriously, no blood in scenes that there would have been copious amounts of blood. what gives?) Riding the coattails of the success of their joint effort with Spider-man Homecoming, this film is essentially a parasite in and of itself, one that takes but never really gives back, or even acknowledges the existence of Venom’s original host.
Had the filmmakers embraced the darkness that is Venom and allowed this to be a real horror film, I firmly believe it would have been a much better entry into the already crowded cinematic world of Super Heroes. Heck, if they had just embraced a hard ‘R’ rating, this would likely have been a much more solid film. The Scary thing is, as these types of films make money, we are sure to see more and more of them as time goes by, bringing the great Superhero era of Hollywood even that much closer to an end.
All in all, it’s not a bad flick and if you are looking for something fun and mindless, it is worth the view. If not, just wait to video. Trust me, I saw it twice and, while the first time was fun, the second time I actually fell asleep half way through… and don’t get me started on the terrible end credits song!
Late To The Game 10/21/2018
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode.
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