Venom review: Joyless black goo

Remember when the first teaser for Venom was released and everyone immediately lost hope that this was going to be a good adaptation for the character?

Well everyone was right this time around as Venom’s trailers not being misleading are just about the only thing it does right.

Yes after Spider-Man 3 really soured the general populace to the idea of this character, Sony was brave (or dumb) enough to give it another shot with this solo movie and Tom Hardy playing the titular character.

Like Spider-Man 3, Venom’s story is overly complex and absolutely falls over itself at every turn. An eccentric billionaire with a space exploration company (we wonder where they got that idea) named Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) gets his hands on a few alien symbiotes that can bond with humans and give them powers.

One symbiote hooks onto Hardy’s character Eddie Brock, and Carlton Drake doesn’t like that because he has his own plans for it, and the aliens also have a separate agenda revealed later.

Summed up like that the plot here is simple enough, but the way this movie plays it out is dreadful. A large chunk of the movie is spent watching Eddie Brock do boring, non-Venom things and it felt like we were thirty minutes or more into this movie before it started to go anywhere at all.

Poor pacing aside, this wouldn’t be such a problem if Eddie Brock wasn’t such a terrible character to spend time with.

Hardy’s performance here is woeful. That weird accent he’s doing isn’t even the problem here, as he flips between being a piece of wood and an an absolute idiot who bumbles around shouting at things.

We’re definitely willing to pin this on a bad script – because man, it is bad – but we’re not sure why Hardy messed this one up like this given his pedigree. We can only assume it was bad direction from Ruben Fleischer and the fact that the actor’s favourite scenes were apparently cut from the final release.

Ahmed’s performance is also plain bad. He’s supposed to be this charismatic, imposing figure, but he comes off as the complete opposite. Really, we’ve been more intimidated by angry chihuahuas in the past. It feels like a complete misstep in casting and that, combined with his expository dialogue, made the main antagonist feel more like a nuisance that we didn’t want more scenes with.

The rest of the cast is just dreary here and pots around not doing much of anything. Actress Michelle Williams is given a lot of screen time too and the film desperately tries to make her an important part of the story, but she just turns out to be another love interest character.

Venom itself is the main draw here and is a mixed bag. The CGI bringing it to life is decent enough but it never feels like the filmmakers go crazy enough with his powers.

There’s another symbiote that gets time to shine in this movie that can be seen briefly in the trailers, and it offered a small glimpse into how great it could be, but we think they held back for potential sequels.

Instead Venom’s incarnation is only okay and doesn’t do anything too egregious outside that terrible dialogue and the infamous “turd in the wind” line.

There’s just nothing special about Venom, despite the fact that this character is so interesting in its source material and there were so many routes they could have followed to match that.

There’s also the aspect of his antihero nature (which was played up in the marketing) but the film does little with it. How does the world react to a “hero” that needs to eat humans to survive? How does Eddie Brock deal with his new split personality that this symbiote creates in his mind? Just how does the power dynamic between the host and parasite work?

The film hints at these interesting aspects for maybe a split second each before quickly moving on to a new drawn out scene and the next few lines of cringey dialogue.

There’s an interesting main theme here that is decent to listen to but it’s used far too often, and that weird Eminem song pops up, but don’t look for anything special in the sound department.

When the credits roll and we get to see one of the worst wigs in film history, Venom will leave you empty and bored. It somehow manages to feel too short with not enough of its rare good moments, as well as overly long and drawn out because of the pacing.

The performances were hard to watch and the main character came across as an idiot when not covered in black alien goo, and a hulking dullard when he is.

There’s very little to like about Venom and we can’t recommend anyone sees it apart from those who watch every single superhero movie.

Honestly just go and watch Spider-Man 3 again. That movie is also bad but at least you won’t have to pay for movie tickets and concessions, and you can enjoy that as a meme it has become.

Venom is just a joyless movie that, even more so than the Amazing Spider-Man films, is just Sony pumping out a piece of content to retain their Marvel licences.

We can’t believe they didn’t learn anything from Homecoming and Marvel Studios’ involvement in that.


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