Venom - 2018
Director(s): Ruben Fleischer
Writer(s): Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel (screenplay) / Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie (characters)
Cinematography by: Matthew Libatique
Editor(s): Alan Baumgarten and Maryann Brandon
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott and Jenny Slate
Look, I will be upfront, I don’t watch trailers for movies I’m excited to see as I don’t want anything spoiled. I watched the trailer for this movie. Saying that I wasn’t excited for this movie is an understatement. But like I always do, as soon as I sit in the theater I push aside my feelings and preconceived notions and let the movie speak for itself. Many times, I’ve walked away shocked at how much I liked a movie I was expecting to hate. It’s part of the fun and one of the many reasons I love movies. This was not one of those times.
The story centers around Eddie Brock (Hardy), an investigative reporter that stops at nothing to find the truth. He is investigating the Life Corporation run by Carton Drake (Ahmed) and their shady dealings. Life Corp brings alien lifeforms, called symbiotes, back from one of their space missions and Drake sees them as the next step in human evolution as they need a host to survive in our oxygen rich environment. One of the symbiotes, Venom, creates a bond with Brock and they join forces to stop Drake and the symbiote Riot from destroying the world. This is a weird movie. At times is a good weird thanks to Hardy’s performance, and at times it’s simply a bad movie thanks to the basic script, choppy editing and eye-soring CGI. But I can see people liking it for how weirdly bad it is. I can equally see people flat-out hating this movie and being madly unsatisfied on the internet for years to come. I fall somewhere in the “didn’t hate it but I certainly didn’t like it” range.
The story has a lot of flaws in it and the dialogue doesn’t help either. The opening sequence is erratic and a bit rushed only to slow down - way down - once we meet Brock and we see how he loses it all when trying to take down Drake. It picks back up once Venom is inside of him. Their relationship is funny, engaging, and Hardy has great chemistry with himself, since he is the voice of Venom. There is a symbiote that is walking across the globe to get to the Life Corporation, jumping from body to body. They kept cutting back to this and all I could think is how much it reminded me of 2005’s Constantine. It felt unnecessary as they could’ve showed one transfer occurring and have that one actor appear at the Life Corp; the audience would’ve connected the dots that it traveled a long way to get there. There was a potential to have a great buddy comedy inside the structure but it gets buried under spotty action sequences that have thirty edits per second that make your eyes hurt.
Quick note: I get that they wanted to make their Venom outside of Spiderman, but since he doesn’t have the white spider symbol on his chest, at times he looks like a big black blob fighting people in the streets of San Francisco.
Tom Hardy’s performance will be a hot topic of debate. His accent, body language and comedic tone feel like experimental choices, as if one day he came on set and said to the director “what if my character talked until out of breath and you can barely tell what he is saying?” and he went for it. At times it works, especially when he is arguing with Venom, but for the most part you are just staring at him thinking to yourself “but why”. I won’t fault him for trying something new and, well, weird. Drake is a subpar villain at best. Ahmed’s performance felt like he was trying to channel his co-star from Nightcrawler as this cold calculated genius that stops at nothing to achieve his goals. But when you compare him to the over the top performance of Hardy and the self-awareness of the movie, he felt out of place. The rest of the cast simply blends in the background.
Venom is a hot mess that will have at least one element that people will enjoy within the runtime. The movie invites you to laugh with and at it as it is very self-aware that they are making a weird movie. But this element of self-awareness doesn’t overcome the fact that the CGI is awful and distracting, the action is badly edited and dizzying and the story beats are generic and uninspired. I didn’t hate it as many on the internet are claiming to - the hate feels a bit like people are jumping on the bandwagon of the new movie to hate - but I certainly won’t be seeing this movie ever again. I appreciate Hardy’s effort to create something new, but they simply fell short. Hardy is why I love movies.
Venom is currently playing in theaters. Maybe wait for it to hit Netflix.
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Subscribe to my newsletter so you are always up to date with all my reviews. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook if you want to have a conversation about movies.