Sony’s Spiderman universe without Spiderman kicks off with Venom. A character whose standard origin is tied closely to the web-swinging hero we all know. Obviously this film couldn’t do that but it has a great cast so I was kind of optimistic going in despite some odd trailers.
Led by Tom Hardy and with Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed there’s a lot of talent in this cast. Tom Hardy gives an odd performance, at times full crazy, at others he’s a different person entirely. And I don’t mean when he becomes Venom. He bends to fit the tone of the movie, but that hints at this films main problem for me.
Michelle Williams tries her best, some of the lines she has to say I was impressed she got through without laughing. Her role steers clear of the damsel in distress trope and I enjoyed the character enough. Riz Ahmed on the other hand, plays “generic evil billionaire 1” and the character has as no depth at all. Early on you get the “evil guy” vibe and it stays that way for the entirety of the film. I’m not sure if it’s just a poorly written character or if Ahmed just turned up to cash a cheque, but I didn’t enjoy the villain at all.
Back to the tonal issues this film has, I’m not sure what Venom was aiming for. It’s part horror, part comedy, part action, part romance, part decent, part terrible. As I said earlier, Hardy does fit the tone in each specific scene, which shows his range. It flitters about too much and this threw me off the film a little.
This is all from the last two acts of the film, as the first act is a slow crawl towards us seeing Venom. It serves the purpose of setting up Eddie Brock and how his life has fallen apart but it takes far too long for me. Evidenced by the fact I glanced at my watch to see how long it had been. Never a good sign in a film.
Once you get to Venom being introduced, we get some serviceable action scenes and some moments I genuinely laughed out loud at. The Venom/Eddie relationship is excellent and most scenes with them I found entertaining.
That’s the main entertainment in a film that’s plot had lost me long before it’s resolution. It’s very basic, one of the key points is not explained, and it ends in a CGI mess of a fight that would make Transformers 3 proud. I didn’t expect anything amazing from the plot of a Venom film but something a bit more interesting would have gone a long way to making the first and third acts pop more.
Could this film have been better even without Spiderman? Yes, easily. I don’t think lacking Spidey is the main problem, in fact parts of this film are enjoyable and if they could have captured that more consistently it would have been a very positive review. However Venom felt like a throwback to 2007, before the modern superhero craze. By that standard it is great, by today’s standards, it’s disappointing.
Good: Venom and Eddie’s back and forth is really fun to watch. Mid and Post credit scenes.
Bad: Uninteresting villain, boring plot, tone shifts everywhere and CGI final fight.
4/10 – Good potential, not delivered on.