Venom is a fun watch, however more dedicated fans may find the whole experience a little lacking and unsatisfying.
Finally! Ever since Sam Raimi introduced audiences to a live action Venom in Spider-Man 3, fans have waited over a decade to see the return of the alien anti-hero. It’s taken over a decade for one of the Marvel universe’s most intriguing villains to hit our screens in its full glory, and expectations have been incredibly high. Unfortunately, these expectations aren’t quite matched by what Ruben Fleischer has produced.
The first, and possibly most noticeable problem with Venom is its script. It often feels as if Venom doesn’t really know what type of film it wants to be, drifting between being a dark superhero film, Sci-Fi horror, and a dark comedy, but failing to truly capture the real essence of any of these genres. In fact, the film doesn’t seem to find its footing until about halfway through, at which point the screenplay wholly embraces its comedic side, jarring the audience and disappointingly breaking all of the suspense that was well set up in its opening moments.
The script’s lack of focus majorly impacts the depth of the supporting characters, and as a result the only character we ever feel interested in is our lead, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Thus, Venom feels like a film holding something back, an issue most noticeable in the back story between Eddie and his ex-fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams); despite being presented as a key part of the story, the relationship between the two is rushed and we’re never given a real reason to root for the pair. The final major problem is that the film shows evidence of the infamous cuts Hardy spoke about before release. These are especially obvious early in the film when the characters are being introduced, as their introductions are rushed and never really developed.
Negatives aside, the film also has its positives. For starters, Venom is a fantastic visual spectacle. From that car chase, to the symbiote in all its forms, the effects are of the highest quality. The film knows this too, and uses every possible opportunity to show off to the extent that it brings tears to George Lucas’ eyes. Second, despite the initial shock of the abundance of comedy in the second half, I did find myself laughing along to the witty humour that came about from the relationship between Brock and Venom. The relationship between these two sides of the character is well developed, providing light relief from the otherwise gritty tone. This success is achieved in most part through the stellar performance of Tom Hardy, which proved to be a pleasant surprise having heard the stories from the set: most notably Hardy’s rant on set and demanding a re-write of his lines. Despite all this talk prior to Venom‘s release, the film shows no real sign of the actor’s discontent, and Hardy dominates the screen as we would expect.
Now to answer the main question: is Venom perfect? No, in fact there are faults with this film that feel as if they could’ve been so easily avoided. Still though, Venom is a fun viewing experience for general audiences, but the more die hard comic book fans may be left wanting more.
Venom (2018), directed by Ruben Fleischer, is distributed in the UK by Columbia Pictures, certificate 15.