The release of “Venom” has been plagued by immense scrutiny from many and cautious optimism from some. Such doubts stemmed from its lack of a connection to Spider-Man or the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) due to it being from Sony Picture’s barebones Marvel Universe with a questionable writing group consisting of the writers of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with a director still trying to draw clout from his last well-received film, “Zombieland.” Fortunately, director Ruben Fleischer and main star Tom Hardy have managed to make something very watchable and fun.
“Venom” follows the story of intrepid reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy). Brock has done well for himself in life, from an investigative reporting show to an engagement with spirited attorney Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Weying supplies Brock with an interview with Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the head of the philanthropic and technologically-minded corporation known as the Life Foundation. However, after Brock ambushes Drake with questions regarding the sinister dealings of the Life Foundation, Brock’s life starts crashing around him. When all seems lost, he comes in contact with a mysterious extraterrestrial symbiote known as Venom (voiced by Hardy) following Brock’s clandestine investigation into the Foundation. Armed with superhuman abilities, Brock/Venom aim to stop Drake and his company from continuing their ominous dealings, while Brock struggles to toe the line between villain and hero with his newfound friend.
Directing wise, Fleischer is just above a workmanlike execution of the lackluster story. He is in full control when showing Hardy’s acting capabilities through both Brock and Venom. Hardy’s snively yet endearing performance as Brock manages to be the perfect straight man to the insanity and ferocity of Venom, who supplies the film’s best lines through his various insults and inner commentary of the situations throughout the film. Williams and Ahmed do their best with the material they are given, although Ahmed does not manage to portray someone menacing until the end, and even then it is through the assistance of another character.
The writing, from Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel, ends up being pretty formulaic, with the plot consisting of a tired retread of the “saving the world” template. The plot feels like it was put together in minutes, with cheesy tones here and there outside of Venom’s performance. The music by Ludwig Goransson is above average, with the main theme for Venom being a standout imbuing an air of fear and bombast with some heroic flourishes to it. The editing is very haphazard and bordering on sloppy, but it does not take much away from the film.
In the end, “Venom” has a fair share of flaws with technical elements and plot. Hardy’s performance, the effects, the character of Venom and Fleischer’s above average direction help to move this film beyond a sub-par level.
Dir.: Ruben Fleisher
Release: Oct. 5
Rating: 3.5 out of 5