Venom (2018) Review

Venom poster

As soon as I saw a trailer featuring the words “we are Venom”, I was excited for the release of this film and I knew the missus and I would go to watch it as soon as we possibly could.

Then came the bad reviews from critics; like, terrible reviews. I searched the Venom hashtag on Twitter and, in typical fashion, found mostly positive comments from normal people who’d gone to see it. That brings up the question of who’s right — the man or woman in the street or the critics on the internet? It also left me in a bit of a pickle; am I a critic or am I a just guy who writes reviews? Anyway, time to see who I agreed with!

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Director – Ruben Fleischer

Writers – Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenborg and Kelly Marcel

Based on Characters created by – Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie

Stars – Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate

Run Time – 112 minutes

Budget – $100 million estimated

Tagline – The world has enough Superheroes.

I recommend that before you go and watch Venom, you should watch Life. It’s a space horror and although I think it’s overrated, it is still a pretty decent film that would serve very well as a prequel to Venom, especially given the way it ends. In fact, it was heavily rumoured at one point that Life was a sleeper prequel to Venom, but the studio have since confirmed that it is not the case. There are, however, significant thematic similarities between the two films and, arguably, the trio of screenwriters missed a trick by not linking the narrative of Venom to the previous film.

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Venom’s premise is as simple as any other superhero movie. The plot revolves around Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy — Inception; The Dark Knight Rises; Mad Max: Fury Road), an investigative TV reporter who scores an interview with billionaire scientist, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed — Four Lions; Nightcrawler; Jason Bourne), who Brock suspects of performing dodgy experiments on human subjects, involving recently discovered symbiotic lifeforms that a space probe found on a comet and returned to Earth.

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After having his life ruined by Drake, Eddie has no job and, due to his own nosey behaviour, he loses his fiancée, Anne (Michelle Williams — Brokeback Mountain; Shutter Island; My Week with Marilyn). Eddie is approached by one of Drake’s employees who gives him access to Drake’s facility, so he can search for evidence of the evil scientist’s illegal experimentation. While inside, things don’t go well for Eddie — I won’t spoil exactly how — and he starts to feel ill and extremely hungry, before starting to hear voices in his head.

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The film begins to pick up the pace as Eddie discovers, with the help of Anne and her new boyfriend, that he is playing host to a parasite. While the experience makes Eddie appear unwell, he is far from it. In fact, the parasite — referred to as a symbiote — gives Eddie superpowers that enable him to defend himself when under attack from Drake’s goons by lashing them with a purple/blue string-like material. It took a while before we got to see the full face of Venom blend into and take over Eddie’s own features, but when it finally happened I nerded out massively!

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Films of this genre always need a strong villain but as often seems to be the case, the protagonist ends up fighting an evil version of himself — and Venom is no exception. Drake blends with a symbiote and does battle with Eddie/Venom and, as usual, this leads to a showdown between the two after our anti-hero is done laying waste to the villain’s horde of henchmen.

At the end of the film, we are treated to the now customary end credit scenes. The first of these scenes is absolutely brilliant for any comic nerds, albeit somewhat predictable.

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The Good

  • The design of Venom — man, he’s absolutely perfect!
  • I read that Tom Hardy’s performance was poor; while he does overact at times, his performance gets better as the film progresses.
  • There is plenty of humour in this film, even if It can miss the mark on occasion.
  • The relationship between Venom and Eddie is great, especially the banter between the two — I would have liked to see more of it.
  • Michelle Williams is strong in her role.
  • I loved the way the film ended; it could not have been done any better.

The Bad

  • There is an argument to be made that the end battle could have been more epic.
  • While not a personal “bad”, I have seen a few people say the film is a bit boring before Eddie gets his symbiote and becomes Venom.
  • I would have liked the villain to have a bit more screen time.

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Summary

According to the pre-release hype, one of the major supposed disappointments of this film was the decision to go for a PG-13 certificate rather than the more adult R-rating, but I don’t see how this film could have benefitted from more on-screen blood and guts. Apparently, the decision was made in order to retain the option of linking Venom to the Spider-Man franchise, which makes perfect sense. Since Deadpool and Logan, there is an appetite among moviegoers for comic films to feature more adult-themed content. Although this film does not suffer from being made available to a wider audience, it is concerning that Tom Hardy is on record as saying that all of his favourite scenes were cut.

Overall, though, this film is great fun. I really enjoyed it and it appears to me now that all of the negativity on social media prior to its release was misguided — it’s almost as though there is an agenda against this film. Tom Hardy could have been better but as the film progressed, I began to enjoy his performance. Add to that the great chemistry between Eddie and the voice in his head and some terrific action set-pieces, and you’ve got a thoroughly enjoyable movie that I’m already looking forward to seeing again!

Overall Score: 8/10

Written by: Acidburn
Proofread by: Ben Rochey-Adams on Twitter Here

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