Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Running Time: 112 mins
Venom is an American film about Eddie Brock, a former journalist who becomes infected by an extraterrestrial specimen, but soon discovers he must embrace the powers it has given him if he is to survive it.
I can’t say that Venom is a pitch-perfect superhero movie, nor is it an absolutely riveting watch, but I can’t ignore just how entertaining a film it can be. Fast-paced and action-packed throughout, along with an impressively dark atmosphere that goes a little further than what we normally see from the likes of Marvel, I had a lot of fun watching throughout.
This film was a bit of a strange watch, because it doesn’t quite stick the landing on some of the more outlandish and unique things it’s trying to do – namely its focus on the concept of an anti-hero (more on that later) – yet as an out-and-out blockbuster movie, it’s simple and energetic enough throughout that there’s no reason not to enjoy.
I can see how those looking for something a little more profound may end up disappointed here, but if you expect of this film what it actually is, then it really can provide an enjoyable watch, something that I found as it moved through a fairly generic story, but with enough pace and big action to prove thoroughly entertaining.
In the lead role, Tom Hardy is as likable as ever as Eddie Brock, and puts in a decent turn as he sees himself transformed upon being infected by this alien specimen, with enough grit to make his acceptance of his darker side believable, but still likable enough that you sympathise with the part of him that feels remorse for what’s happening to him.
What’s more is that the film does a fairly good job of creating a dark atmosphere that allows for an interesting story throughout. The first act in particular proves thoroughly engrossing, as the tension and unpredictability of just what’s going to happen to Brock when we see his full transformation into Venom is genuinely palpable. When the transformation happens, a little bit of that intrigue is taken away, but it’s swiftly replaced by a lot (and I mean a lot) of action sequences, most of which are very well-paced and well-directed enough to get your heart racing.
So, as a simple blockbuster, Venom proves a properly entertaining watch, while it also adds a little bit of character with its impressive dark atmosphere at times.
With that said, however, the film isn’t quite perfect throughout, and comes up a little short when trying to push some of its deeper ideas. Above all, it’s a movie that aims to challenge typical superhero movies and their generic good vs. bad conflict, by seeing our main character transformed into a villain. However, rather than ending up with a riveting and ambiguous portrayal of the concepts of heroism and evil, everything happens a little too easily here, and for something that’s meant to have a little more vagueness at its core, things are just a little too clear-cut and simplistic, which I found a little disappointing.
Also, while the film’s darker side does often make it a striking watch, I found its visual style a little disappointing as well. Above all, I found the design of Venom absolutely laughable, as rather than being a genuinely threatening and intense figure, his wacky eyes and wobbly tongue flying all over the screen makes him look more goofy than anything else, and although the deep, growling voice brings a little bit of gravitas to his character, it was a really offputting element of the movie throughout for me.
Finally, some of the action sequences, while very entertaining to watch, do feature some very garish CGI that just looks really ugly on screen. It’s not quite as bad as some of the stuff we’ve seen in Zack Snyder’s DCEU films (Batman v. Superman and Justice League), but the overly complex networks of black and grey mesh – worst of all in the final action sequence – are just horrible to look at, and again rather offputting.
Overall, though, I have to say that I rather liked Venom. There are far better superhero movies out there, and this definitely doesn’t achieve everything it aims to do when it comes to the story at hand, but as a simple, action-packed blockbuster, it gets the job done really well, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.