It’s a comedy, right?
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Super-hero
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
I’m not sure if comic fans of the Venom character are going to like this movie, but coming at it purely as a movie goer with a limited understanding of the comic Universe Venom comes from, this rollicking action flick is super fun.
It’s the oddball humour that makes Venom the whacky ride it is. The interaction between the Symbiote, Venom and his human host, Eddie Brock, is at times damn hilarious. Venom has the best lines in the movie, tormenting Brock from inside his head with some zippy insults and sassy banter. Unfortunately the film makers took a little too long to reveal the alien with a passion for tatter-tots and people’s heads, leaving the audience with no real sense of the character they’re supposed to be rooting for…eventually. Who and what Venom is, is never really explored, so if you don’t come in with that knowledge, it’s hard to feel a connection.
In fact, one of the flaws in Venom is the emotional jump the Symbiote makes from ravager of Earth, to saviour. It was literally a “Huh?” moment. There is no evidence of an emotional bond developing between Venom and Eddie, and at no time does Eddie represent the kind of influence that may change the mind of an alien who initially sees our World as a smorgasbord, to one who doesn’t want to see the human race perish. Eddie is a bit of a dick for a lot of the movie. Consequently, it’s a jarringly sharp turn in the narrative. Just a little interaction between the two showing a growing understanding of each other would have done the job, but the leap the audience is asked to take is a large one and winds up making the movie feel disjointed.
There’s no doubt Venom is an uneven film in writing and structure, but that doesn’t stop it being enjoyable. The action sequences are pretty cool, with energetic fight scenes and an epic car chase through the streets of San Francisco (and who doesn’t love a good car chase), plus the stars are the kind of actors that can turn a less than stellar script, into something that is more often than not, delightful.
Tom Hardy is always compelling, sometimes confusing, and often downright terrifying, but here in Venom, he’s, well, goofy. Hardy’s Eddie Brock is not exactly the most likeable character on screen. When we first meet him, he’s selfish with no regard as to how his actions will affect anyone, and as his life crumbles, he becomes a shambling loser who blames everyone else for the situation he created through his own arrogance. But once Venom takes hold, even though Eddie doesn’t exactly redeem himself, he does become more charming somehow. Probably because…Tom Hardy. Hardy, even when a little strange, is undeniably charming. His quirky performance breathes life into Brock.
Michelle Williams, as Eddie’s love interest Anne, doesn’t have a whole lot to do, but like Hardy, Williams is such a wonderful actor that the moments she is on the screen are lovely to watch. Essentially Eddie, Anne and Venom are having some kind of bizarre love triangle rom-com in the middle of all the shooting and throwing of baddies around the screen, with Venom instantly appreciating the awesomeness of Michelle Williams, as well he should! Rounding out the cast, Riz Ahmed plays bad-guy in the guise of entrepreneur Carlton Drake, with a suitable amount of shadiness. But none of the characters, and especially not Venom ever feel completely 3 dimensional. They just aren’t given that room.
Venom definitely could have been a better movie, more Venom would have helped for a start, but it’s a big, nutty, snarky, slightly bizarre, popcorn chomping, hell of a good time, and if you’re willing to just go with it and want to be simply entertained, chances are Venom will do it for you.
Bonus tip: There are 2 after credit scenes. The mid credit scene is the standard Marvel teaser, the end credit scene is a sequence from the upcoming animated film, Spider-Man: In to the Spider-Verse which looks AMAZING! So stick around.
(c) Amy Hutton