VENOM review

Venom

Venom stars Tom Hardy in the lead role. Supporting cast includes Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott and Woody Harrelson. The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) from a script by Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner. Executive producers are David Householter, the legendary Stan Lee and Kelly Marcel.

Venom is in cinemas now!

Synopsis

One of Marvel’s most enigmatic, complex and badass characters comes to the big screen, starring Academy Award® nominated actor Tom Hardy as the lethal protector Venom.

Review

Venom is an interesting phenomenon. A movie which relies heavily on a well established character and fan base but whose foundations do not reflect the characters history.

I went in to Venom with a very open mind. It’s been clear from the outset this movie would be separate from any other Spider-Man franchise and that is apparent from the outset.

Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner do appear to have made some effort in reflecting the essence of the Venom character but the mark is somewhat missed. An intriguing opening act builds a confusing central plot and a muddled ending which left me feeling cold.

But that’s not to say the film ever becomes unwatachable. The mystery of Venom is that it’s actually, at times, endearing. Tom Hardy is entirely watchable as the hapless Eddie. The first act sets up the character well and also brings him down in suitably dramatic fashion. He plays both characters throughout the movie with utter conviction and it really shows.

In fact there’s very little to criticise in act one apart from the lack of Spider-Man. It’s only after Venom and Eddie have bonded and the suit has debuted on screen that things begin to go south.

There’s some excellent interplay between Eddie and Venom. Hardy playing dual roles works well. The two voices are entirely disconnected. The accent, the inflection, the tone, it’s all different. The dialogue between them also makes for some of the funniest moments in the movie.

But therein lies the problem with Venom. It works as an action comedy but that wasn’t necessarily what the producers were aiming for. There are moments when you will laugh and realise you are possibly laughing AT the movie and not WITH it. The further problem is that it works.

Moving in to the second act the comedy begins to take backseat to the action. This is where things really start to spiral into the benign and generic. The main plot featuring Riz Ahmed relies heavily on his characters rhetoric but the film spends no time developing his character. We’re introduced to him when his plan is already in action. His backstory is never explained, he’s simply nefarious for the sake of it because the movie needs a villain.

Venom has often been compared to pre-MCU/pre-Dark Knight comic book movies. It’s right to lump this movie in with those less cerebral comic book movies. But not for that reason. Instead Venom takes all the conveniences and contrivances of movies like Catwoman and tries to make a successful movie out of them.

Characters are always in the right place at the right time. Their skillsets fluctuate depending on what the plot requires them to do. Michelle Williams phoning in her performance as Anne manages to become an expert on managing a symbiote purely by being in the right place at the right time for the entire movie.

It’s this kind of lazy filmmaking which ultimately sabotages Venom. By the muddled, CGI heavy third act there’s little left to care about. The final battle between Venom and Riot is a mess. There are some short bursts of symbiote vs. symbiote imagery which looks cool. But on the whole it’s the kind of CGI mess we’ve come to expect from comic book movies like this.

Thankfully the CGI is fairly stable throughout. It’s not the slickest looking movie but I have seen much worse. The Venom suit, even without the spider on his chest, looks cool. The white veins go some way to make up for the last of a logo but overall the chest is lacking.

Venom interacts well with his surroundings as to the un-joined symbiotes. They crawl in a creepy, alien-seque type way which suits the environments well.

As I’ve said the climactic battle between Venom and Riot is a CGI mess. It’s passable quality but really looks like something out of an XBox game circa 2001.

Much like the performances of all the cast bar Tom Hardy the movies score is forgettable. There are no standout themes. The movie instead relies on its popular music soundtrack to grip the audience. Another trope of the early 00’s comic book movies.

But the fact still remains that Venom is an entirely watchable and not unenjoyable experience.

Verdict

Whilst Venom misses the mark at times it never becomes unwatchable. Shirking the characters comic book connections to Spider-Man – be it forced or no – was a mistake which ultimately costs this film dearly. A strong opening descends in to a muddled their act which will leave fans wonder exactly what it was they just saw.

5/10

For more check out our Venom archive here!


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About Neil Vagg 1982 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG