By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Venom suffers from an infantile screenplay that this overqualified cast just doesn’t deserve. Virtually every moment is teaming with face-palm. What happened here?
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and based on the Marvel Spider-Man villain AND the first entry in Sony’s Marvel universe, which is actually different to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (confused yet?), Venom sees reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) exposed to a nasty alien goo after he uncovers cruel human testing at the hands of the Life Corporation and Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). As the goo, also dubbed as the ‘symbiote’ parasite, begins to bind to Brock’s body, the reporter is forced to listen to the voice of ‘Venom’ in his head.
I’ve never really read the Spider-Man comics so I was only vaguely familiar with this character going in. Apparently, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 version played by Topher Grace is DEFINITELY not the Venom fans know and love either. The real Venom is proper hardcore, hence the casting of Tom Hardy.
But, Hardy takes a strange comedic approach to the character of Brock here who resembles something between an almost incomprehensible Marlon Brando and post-Wedding Singer Adam Sandler. His performance is very physical, childish and kind of overdone, which is strange because Hardy is generslly known for being one of the best actors of modern day.
It does seem like an odd choice for the actor who has played a comic villain before in The Dark Knight Rises, but Christopher Nolan’s Bane was an entirely different beast that had a history and an epic darkness, none of which Venom have.
This Venom tries to be scary but due to either bad screenwriting or bad editing (or both), the character gives up the scary act and tries to aim for a Deadpool-like character that just feels awkward and lost.
The action scenes are OK. The coolest moment involves Brock on a motorbike, but you probably saw that in the trailer already. I do think the CGI and visuals are better than people are saying though. It seems it would’ve been a fun and energetic stunt outing for Hardy, too bad about everything else.
Tom is not the only one that suffers here though. Michelle Williams plays Brock’s ex Anne Weying who is clearly there to kill some time between career defining roles. She’s strictly there as a dumbed-down love interest and nothing more.
Riz Ahmed is also criminally underused. Villain Carlton Drake is obsessed with moulding the symbiote with human genes and no-one really understands why. If you’re looking for any kind of character study in this film, look elsewhere.
The only enjoyable parts of this film are the occasionally funny moments, but given the overall clunkiness, it’s hard to decipher the planned comedy from the accidental comedy. If you’re into terrible films, then maybe you’ll find Venom hilarious.
Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this playing in trash cinema venues in years to come. It has a certain ‘schlockness’ to it. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that this is the same director as Zombieland which was a very funny film not to mention self-aware.
The saddest thing about Venom though is that the after-credits scenes imply a sequel. Don’t hold your breath in that department, Sony.
Venom is terrible. A very disappointing PG-13 film that maybe kids and teens will enjoy, but one that you probably won’t. As far as bad superhero movies rank, this is somewhere around Batman and Robin or Howard the Duck.