Movie Review: Venom (2018)

A joint production of Sony and Marvel, but not set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Venom is a 2018 action superhero film based on the comic book character of the same name. Best known as an antagonist of Spider-man, this version lacks a connection to the NYC wall-crawler, and instead sees the familiar black alien life-form attach itself to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a down on his luck journalist. When Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), head of the Life Foundation, learns that Brock has taken his property, Drake stops at nothing to try and get it back.

+ Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock absolutely nailed the pathetic, down on his luck character he was meant to be, despite having Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) as a girlfriend. Both are great, and there is some real chemistry between the two, especially when things are not at their best. A mini tease in the middle of the film has me excited for what may come next
+ Venom, as a separate character, is also exactly what you could hope for. He is big, alien (in terms of appearance) and has the sadistic personality to match his ruthless fighting style. I am still undecided if I enjoy how much he makes jokes and one-liners, but that is most likely just to make him an anti-hero, rather than the straight-up Spidey foe we know and love. As a side note, Venom is voiced by Tim Hardy in something I never thought could come out of Hardy’s mouth, even with the apparent audio editing
+ the action is smooth and surprisingly clear (meaning I expected a lot more bullshitting to work around showing off his powers). Venom doesn’t have the Spider-man “web shooting”, obviously, so watching him lumber around the battles more like the Hulk was a joy to see. Seeing a newly infected Brock take on military dudes without fully understanding hos powers was one of the better fight scenes you’ll see any time soon (though it was done first and better in Upgrade).

venom_2
Venom’s tongue is another thing I am really happy they got right. Personally, I’d have had him drool more, like the Xenomorphs in Alien.

– I don’t much care for Riz Ahmed (here playing main antagonist Carlton Drake) in anything he’s in, and his character here was nothing but faux-philosophical, primary school level, “religion is wrong” crap, which soured me on his character immediately. I can’t even say he was a cartoon, or comic book, moustache twirling villain. He was just a walking and talking plot point that took up too much screen time
+ as much as I loved the Venom-on-soldier combat, any time there was a big CGI fest (as in, for example, two CGI creatures against each other), I immediately zoned out. The finale was incredibly difficult for me, being colour blind, as I had no idea who was who or what was going on.
– I cannot stand comic book movies that use the phrase “it’s his Kryptonite” as a simple placeholder for “that’s his weakness”. By saying the former, it implies that Superman exists, whether as a comic book hero or a real “person”. It just completely takes me out of the movie every time I hear it

> It’s not so much a negative, because this was essentially an “Elseworlds” version of a Marvel character, but it is still very strange to see Venom with no connection to Spider-man. There are enough references to remind the audience that Brock is part of the Spider-man universe, if not the MCU proper, but it still sort of felt like we were only getting half the story.

Should you see this film: Fans of the comic character will enjoy this, but fans of the ‘new wave’ of Marvel Cinematic Universe stuff might find it a bit lacking. If you enjoyed this movie, or even thing you enjoy the concept, do yourself a favour and have a double feature showing of Life and Upgrade

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