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Venom – Movie Review

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Venom – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

It’s easy to see the appeal of the symbiotic alien Venom among Spider-Man fans. There’s a Jekyll & Hyde concept at work there with this liquid monster taking control of other beings and unleashing their inner demons. The psychology of such a creature taking one over has the makings of a character study. However, the movie Venom mostly prefers to be a standard popcorn film. That should be fine and the lead performances showcase the proper tone for this production. However, there is a generic feel that runs throughout the film and that takes some of the fun out of it, especially since the titular alien is not in it as much as one might think.

A lot of Venom consists of set-up for Eddie Brock and how he will eventually come into contact with the symbiote. He does have a nice relationship with Michelle Williams’s Anne Weying and some of the best scenes involve the two of them together. There’s some solid interplay between Tom Hardy and Williams that could have made a cute movie on its own. Otherwise, Ruben Fleischer doesn’t direct the early part of the film with much pizzazz and it becomes a long wait until events start heating up. The central antagonist, the CEO of a science research facility, leaves a lot to be desired.

Once Venom finally infests Brock, the movie begins to pick up. The movie takes on a more comedic direction and the laughs are genuine. Venom itself is a rather impressive visual effects creation for what is ultimately a large muscular blob with sharp teeth and giant white eyes. Some of the neatest shots in the movie are those where we see Venom fully in the frame. The action scenes are disappointingly filmed with a lot of close-ups and shaky cam, removing some of the potential fun of those sequences. The action in the climax is particularly messy in its execution.

The film clocks in at a rather short runtime, when not counting the credits. So the audience doesn’t get to see much of Eddie and Venom together, which affects the character development. As previously mentioned, there are some comedic bits when they do interact and they are funny. There is a tongue-in-cheekness that definitely calls to mind Deadpool, albeit without the extreme meta-ness of Ryan Reynolds’s Merc with a Mouth. Tom Hardy makes Eddie Brock into a likeable schlub, almost a Stanley Ipkiss type. That’s not the only allusion to The Mask one could make about the movie. Michelle Williams remains one of today’s best working actresses and while Anne is not written beyond the usual love interest, she plays the role with a knowing wink in her eye and clearly had fun with it.

Venom is ultimately a harmless and inconsequential comic book action movie. One wishes there was more of an attempt to take advantage of its titular monster. While the film thankfully saves the sequel bait for the obligatory mid-credits scene, Venom still feels like only half of a story. If the studio does decide to greenlight a follow-up, the filmmakers will likely find more to do, not being restricted to the origin story template. It’s a credit to Tom Hardy that there’s some investment here, even if we have to slog through a lot of introductory material before the fun begins.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison