Venom Review

Considering Sony Pictures was unable to relaunch the universally beloved character of Spider-Man without help from Marvel Studios, it was pretty audacious of them to try spinning off a “Spider-Man” villain into his own franchise. Even riskier is the clear intention to keep “Venom” far away from the Spider-verse (literally, the movie takes place across the country in San Francisco), and forge the character into an anti-hero capable of standing on its own.

Good thing they cast Tom Hardy.

Although having played Bane in “The Dark Knight Trilogy” as well as Mad Max, Hardy seems above playing a wayward journalist who merges with an alien creature – at least at this point in his career. And if he’s not, then co-star Michelle Williams certainly is. The duo come off as magnanimous for sharing their gifts with this project, and they make “Venom” twice as interesting, which in this case, comes out to a grand total of – interesting.

Hardy plays Eddie Brock, who loses his job and his fiancée (Williams) in one fell swoop when he goes after science/tech entrepreneur Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who has recently acquired samples of alien life called symbiotes, one of which eventually finds the ideal host in Eddie. Comic fans will notice that Venom’s origin story in the film cuts out Spider-Man/Peter Parker, and casts Eddie Brock in the more favorable light of unlikely hero.

Although his superpowers amount to a gooier form of superhuman strength, Venom attempts to stand out from the crowd in that he’s two characters wrapped into one, not a human with an alter-ego. The script embodies this by having Venom talking in Eddie’s head and vice-versa, both voices of course played by Hardy with the Venom voice being deliciously droll.

The wit and comic relief of the dueling voices sets a decisive tone for the film, one clearly emboldened by the success of 20th Century Fox’s “Deadpool,” only in a majorly toned-down PG-13 way. “Venom” takes itself too seriously to warrant the full comparison, but Sony’s belief that Venom could be turned into an anti-hero was undoubtedly informed by Fox’s success turning a similarly glib and over-the-top character with a loyal following into a blockbuster cornerstone. Throw in Sony’s failure to do the same with Ghost Rider and the business machinations behind the film are too obvious to ignore.

That takes us back to securing a talent the likes of Tom Hardy. A Tom Hardy “Ghost Rider” film would’ve had a higher likelihood of being a hit, whereas a Nicolas Cage “Venom” movie—well, I’ll let your imagination do the talking. So “Venom” clings to Hardy and Williams’ gravitas while sliding by on a slight but noticeable amount of ingenuity. Director Ruben Fleischer has never managed to equal “Zombieland” in the nine years since, but he understands violence and humor and lets what makes the character unique shine out just enough to justify the film’s existence.

Sony will be reticent to hook up Hardy’s Venom with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man anytime soon, especially given all the snags with Marvel Studios, but it’s hard to imagine a trajectory for a Venom franchise that doesn’t include the wall-crawler and still maintains viewer interest. Even with a fan-tantalizing cameo in the film’s post-credits sequence, Venom will need more to stand on if he wants his own prominent cut of the superhero movie pie.

3.5/5 Stars

Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment