Review: Venom

looks at the latest comic book offering and is less than pleased with the result

Image: Sony Pictures

0/10

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Length: 2hr 20m

Rating: 12A

Sony just never learns does it?  It seemed after the failure of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 Sony had understood that they were not best placed to make movies about Marvel’s top hero and allowed Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to handle our favourite web-head.  It seemed that with the abject failure of the Fantastic 4 reboot film that apart from the successful X-Men franchise Marvel could have their characters back.  However, it seems Sony decided to go forward with a shared universe, just this time without the one character that anyone would have wanted to see and who, in fact, ties all these characters together and decided to headline it with Venom, and to add insult to injury decided that the best team to run it should be the person who messed up Spider-Man 3, the creative genius behind the Ghostbusters reboot, and the man who cancelled Firefly and brought us X-Men Origins Wolverine.  Judging by this film, Sony should perhaps quit, not while they are ahead, but before they embarrass themselves any more.

Venom as a film is a confusing mess with little more than one-dimensional characters.  The entire first bit of the film before Venom shows us is boring beyond all belief.  We have Eddie Brock, a journalist who will put his job on the line to pursue the stories he feels are worth telling, who gets fired for doing exactly that despite having a studio who hired him for this reason, after an interview with someone who specifically asked for him despite knowing exactly what kind of reporter he is.  His meddling gets his fiancé (who has literally zero chemistry with him) fired from her job as well, and despite knowing his history and this being presumably what attracted her to him, leads to a break-up that is clearly never going to last.  We also get the appearance of Carlton Drake, a man with one of the most clearly evil names possible to have, whose entire purpose is to be a bad guy for undisclosed reasons and then become a host for a symbiote as well.  These characters spend the entire first third of the movie messing about and dumping exposition on each other before the action starts.

However, the action is not even the panacea we would expect.  The CGI in this film is terrible and looks almost hand-drawn, putting even the Fantastic 4 reboot’s terrible use to shame.  The action scenes start with no warning and there is very little connecting them as the characters run from one fight to the other.  The final fight is so badly lit that it is impossible to tell who we are rooting for in any instance and what is going on and ends so abruptly that one could get whiplash from watching it.  To make matters worse the entire film has very inconsistent rules for how these symbiotes work.  We see symbiotes who are unable to match to a host instantly killing them, yet for some reason Riot can literally walk across the world and take hosts as he pleases, and Venom was able to do the same with Annie for her short cameo as She-Venom.  We are told fire kills symbiotes, and yet Venom literally jumps through a rocket fire to kill Riot with little to no harm.  The same is with the sound, which either deactivates the symbiotes or makes them go crazy, with little to no explanation.  There is no explanation how Venom survived his supposed sacrifice.  Furthermore, in the first action chase scene the drones have varying firepower, going from being able to total a jeep to only slightly bumping a car door.  These things matter and it seems like the writers cared very little about anything in this film.

Finally, and most damningly the film’s entire tone veers from being light-hearted humour to taking itself too seriously.  It is very jarring to watch a film go from Venom gleefully listing the body parts he wants to eat to the scene of him digging up the terrible things the Life Foundation did.  This film seems like it does not want to take any risks with its storyline.  We could have had a great comedy romp, Deadpool style between Brock and his symbiote, but those scenes are just too few and far between.  The film even has a PG-13 rating to demonstrate how little faith people had in it.  If the film had gone for an R-Rating like Deadpool or Logan then it could have revelled in the violence and either given us a comedy or a serious cerebral story like Logan (personally that would have been better).  Anything would have been better than this confused mess of a film that did not know what it wanted to be and was restrained by the studio execs.  Hopefully Sony will just stop making Marvel-based films and just let Kevin Feige do his job with the characters.  This should happen sooner rather than later, before they butcher another Marvel character and make no one want to touch them for another 10 years.

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