When Sony first announced it was going to create a cinematic universe around Spider-Man characters, but without Spider-Man, it was a bit confusing. Why bother going through all of this without the main character that ties everything together? After viewing Venom, it’s clear that Sony is primarily out to make a buck and doesn’t care as much about source material or audience enjoyment compared to Marvel Studios. While Venom isn’t a terrible film, it feels dated and reeks of a time when superhero films were rarely considered good movies.
Venom has one thing going for it, and only one thing. The relationship between Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom is the highlight of the film. It drags before the duo are introduced, and they are the sole source of entertainment once they form a bond. There are no other characters of interest in this film, and any time Venom is left out of a scene, the movie suffers for it.
The other major players in Venom are a mixed bag. Michelle Williams has had her fair share of TV and film roles, many of which she stole the show. Venom is not one of those films. It feels as though Williams is phoning in her performance as an annoyed girlfriend ready to move on. The only time she shows any enthusiasm just happens to be directly related to the Venom character, and only lasts for a fleeting moment before she’s back to phoning it in.
Riz Ahmed was one of the highlights in Star Wars: Rogue One and The OA on Netflix. He tries his best to bring Carlton Drake to life, but he’s dragged down by a lazy script that calls back to the light-weight villains of the 90s. As the main antagonist in a movie about a character who is primarily an antagonist to Spider-Man (this isn’t Agent Venom), Ahmed plays Drake with a calculated and borderline obsession for the alien symbiote. Unfortunately, despite Ahmed’s best efforts, the script reduces Drake to a laughable villain with paper-thin motivations and no character arc to speak of. If you thought Marvel Studios’ villains were lacking, allow Sony to remind you how bad things were 20 years ago.
Venom’s problems began at the corporate level. Most of the production team behind Venom is also credited with Sony’s failed attempt to reboot Ghostbusters. The writing team has handled such wondrous films as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Despite such a glowing resume, the real problem boils down to Amy Pascal. If that name sounds familiar it’s because she was the reason it took so long for Marvel and Sony to come to a deal over Spider-Man. That’s also one of the reasons she was fired from her job as Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. She got The Amazing Spider-Man gang back together for Venom, and the lack of talent or understanding of the source material is clear.
All of this is not to say Venom is a terrible film. In fact, if you go in with low expectations, there’s a good chance you will enjoy it. Unfortunately, the relationship between Venom and Eddie Brock is the only enjoyable part of the movie. Tom Hardy is skilled enough to carry the film by himself (or with himself?), but it’s not enough to make a bad film good. Remove Brock’s relationship from the movie and it would be one of the worst comic book movies in recent times. As it stands, the film isn’t good, but it’s entertaining enough to watch in theaters. We can only hope there’s no sequel because, without Marvel Studios, Sony is clearly lost.
Synopsis:When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Stars: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Runtime: 1 Hour, 52 Minutes