It looks like Sony wants to do their own thing within the Spider-Man universe but Venom is definitely not a good start.
Synopsis: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life. (IMDB)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed
Writers: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Rating: 14A (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 112mins
For the most part, this film has been bashed by critics. While arguably not as bad as what has been collectively said about it, the film is by no means the greatest either. The biggest problem with the film was how dated it felt. It seemed like it would be better suited as an early 2000s release than a 2018 release. This problem simply snowballed and found a way into every aspect of the film as the film went on. There may have been plenty of silliness here but not all of it worked as the story struggled to find the right tone over its nearly 2 hour running time, settling for loudness and incoherence. It was also hard to fight the feeling that everything that happened here for the most part has been done before in much better films with Upgrade being the first film that comes to mind.
The story here was about a hard-nosed reporter named Eddie Brock (Hardy). Brock was passionate about finding the truth and it was this passion that often got him in trouble. After a hostile run-in with a potentially unethical foundation and its leader, Carlton Drake (Ahmed), while working on a story, Brock inadvertently found himself tied to an alien symbiote named Venom and became a target of Drake and his foundation’s many resources. How the symbiotes got there was pretty much irrelevant as were their motivations once they got here as the bulk of the plot simmered down to the lead up to the inevitable Brock versus Drake showdown. Before all of that could happen, Brock and Venom had to get used to one another. Admittedly, this led to some kind of fun interactions between the two but the film did not go far enough with this.
Films of this nature have to use a lot of special effects, including CGI. The film featured a decent chase sequence but the problem came with the CGI which wasn’t particularly great as far as the symbiote was concerned with the final battle standing out for the wrong reasons. There wasn’t much character development to be had here though the film never seemed to be overly concerned about that. Brock was the lovable loser who was thrust into action. Drake was the cliche perverted ideological bad guy. Brock’s ex-fiancée Anne (Williams) was either the cliche superhero film female companion or dragged down the story thanks to a contrived romantic subplot whose sole purpose was to keep her in the story. Ultimately, it was difficult to care about any of the characters or the story for that matter.
The story also took a long time to get going as its predictable, derivative, and downright lazy nature as well as the mediocre dialog made it more on the dull side while it led its characters on a familiar path. Of course that path led to a potential sequel that remains to be seen via a standard post-credits scene. The laziness translated to the acting, however, Hardy was nowhere near lazy. His commitment to the role of Eddie Brock/Venom was easy to see and he was still somewhat compelling to watch but it was just a shame that the subpar material was so beneath him. What was especially painful was the fact that everyone else wasn’t on the same level as him. Williams and Ahmed were miscast as Anne and Drake. For whatever reason, each have no chemistry whatsoever with Hardy and both sleepwalk through their respective roles. They didn’t care about their characters so why should we?
Overall, this was a mediocre, lazily executed anti-hero film which just feels dated now in 2018. Despite a few decent moments, its derivative nature, mediocre dialog, inconsistent tone, and phoned-in performances, Tom Hardy excluded, make it hard to care and screams a cash in which seems obvious at this point but it comes off as insulting. Though the film will surely do just fine, we deserve better. Since they cut so much out the film, it will be interesting to see how this missing material affects the entire film. At least it won’t hurt.