In this self-contained film, we are given our first look at Marvel’s character Venom. The movie, directed by Ruben Fleischer, follows the life of gonzo journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as he is fired from his job, dumped by his girlfriend (Michelle Williams) and proceeds to wallow in self-pity.
When Eddie is offered the opportunity to expose Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), an arguably well-intentioned scientist with a god complex, Brock breaks into the Life Foundation with the help of a leading scientist Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate). Once inside the laboratory, Brock uncovers the human trials Drake has been running and is attacked by one of the subjects, who subsequently passes on an extra-terrestrial parasite to Brock. We learn that the parasite or symbiote refers to itself as Venom and that it has fused itself with Eddie, giving him superhuman powers.
It seems that Hollywood does not take too kindly to film adaptations of Venom, with his appearance in Spiderman 3 leaving fans of the comics and general moviegoers feeling dissatisfied. It seems that the verdict on this newest adaptation is no different. I wouldn’t go as far to say that this film was terrible… it just wasn’t very good either.
The biggest issue with this film was the story and how lazy it felt. The first hour or so is just boring. It is meant to paint Hardy’s character as a macho, hard-hitting journalist with a soft side, but instead it wrestles with awkward physical comedy and confusing timelines. The amount of exposition in this film feels endless and forces the story to try and cram the majority of the action into the last hour.
When we are finally introduced to the sub-plot villain of the film, Riot who is a symbiote that has fused with Carlton Drake, his introduction and motivation for fighting with Venom is practically non-existent, feeling very much like an afterthought rather than the main line of conflict in the film.
The relationship between Eddie and Venom had a similar rushed quality, where their relationship progressed from controlling and manipulative to that of an old married couple constantly bickering.
However, similar to its counterpart Marvel films, this movie had some of the witty back and forth humour we have grown accustomed to, and while this was entertaining and made the film bearable, gave the film a split personality much like its central character. Venom was created and marketed to be an anti-hero type, the villain to Spiderman’s superhero, even using taglines such as “the world has enough superheroes”. Yes, there was the occasional decapitation on the part of Venom, but apart from that he is very much painted as a socially awkward loser which makes it very hard to believe that this character is a hero of any sort.
In short, the film is neither awful nor award-winning, it is just mediocre, which is perhaps the most disappointing thing about it.