I’ll say it, Sony has had trouble producing a good superhero flick since Spider-Man 2 (2004) and entering this film gave me little confidence their attempt here would be a flat-out success, despite Tom Hardly being pegged as the lead; sadly those fears were confirmed.
Venom follows the story of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a down and dirty reporter that snoops a little too close, one thing leads to another and he coincidentally gets exposed to an alien organism, giving him immense power and a violent temperament.
For a film that focuses on two identities merging there is little collaboration in this mixed bag; as I mentioned before I had hopes that a big name like Hardy could stop the persistent issues, but we’re instead shamelessly greeted with more interference at some of the highest degrees. With heavily cut footage, an R rating discarded, and lead actor Tom Hardy unhappy with the tampering, it is little surprise there are some rattled opinions.
Much like the truthful nature of lead character Eddie Brock I won’t hold back with what this film does right and wrong. Right off the bat it is clear this film is missing things, has holes, bumps, and ultimately struggles to stand upright. This is a solo film that needed something to ground it – through this you really feel the lack of an essential component to the film, many argue that Spider-man is it, as he plays an integral role to the character of Venom. Maybe Spider-Man would have solved these issues, maybe not. With the interference that previous films have had I doubt much would have changed for the better. Whether it was the choppy editing or messy story that was more responsible, it ultimately doesn’t matter, as this film was placed in a precarious position the moment there was interference with its creative process.
Hardy clearly put effort into his wacky performance, unfortunately he is presented with material so poorly written that not even an actor of his caliber can combat this level of dialogue and character writing. While Hardy doesn’t exactly suit the persona of a journalist he is without a doubt the best performer in the film. Michelle Williams plays the love interest, and holds little to no sense of personality, her brief screen-time certainly doesn’t help, I’m doubtful more of it would have helped. Riz Ahmed produces an uninspired performance and he fails to be intimidating on a psychological or physical level for a lead villain. The banter and camaraderie between Venom and Eddie Brock himself stands as one of the film’s most notable attributes, had the film purely focused on just the relationship between Eddie and Venom and done away with its lead villain then there may have been potential here.
This project had a $100 million budget, this is certainly not shown to be present. And while the CGI was tolerable, it was incredibly difficult to follow what was happening at many points throughout fight scenes. The black mass of goo does provide a distinct visual aesthetic to the Venom creature, but the fight sequences feeling nothing short of mid 2000’s level of quality.
This feels like a superhero movie that would have received better reviews back in 2004 when superhero films were still coming into fruition and finding their footing, ignoring all the important advances made by some of the Marvel, Fox and DC films. Venom struggles to assimilate with its own identity; never knowing what it is, where it’s going, and why it’s there in the first place.