They ain’t gonna know what hit ’em! In San Francisco resides noteworthy news journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). The show he hosts in “The Brock Report” specializes in hard-hitting exposés. He’s the type of reporter that a viewer can appreciate in this day and age. There’s no fake or fluff news coming from him and the legions of fans he’s got is evidence of this. Might be very rough around the edges, but his intent is in the right place. Despite the gruff demeanor, he’s a good guy at heart. Fiancé Anne (Michelle Williams) sees this.
Eddie’s desire to get to the truth in everything transforms his life for the worse when he tries to go after the ethically questionable Life Corporation and their CEO, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). His job is lost, and his engagement, dissolved. Brock’s in a bad way, and when it rains, it pours. Pouring in this case comes in the form of an alien symbiote that needs to bond to a host to survive before transferring to the next person. This symbiote has found its way to Eddie. Instead of slowly killing the body, this Venom lifeform takes a liking to this particular individual. Eddie has real power now. Should he use it selfishly, or responsibly?
At this point, all that could have been said has been said about Sony’s attempt to build around Spider-Man’s greatest foes in Venom. Is it unwatchably bad? Definitely no. Is it consistently good? Definitively no. Equally bizarrely impressive as well as head-scratching.
Venom is a hell of a romance…just not in the way one would assume between characters. The sole reason why this film works ever so slightly is the Eddie Brock/Venom aspect, both handled by Hardy. It is a pleasure to see the talent not saddled with a facial apparatus and/or gimmick, and Hardy seems to be having fun.
But, the transformation the two go through to eventually meld into one singular unit is sort of emotionally affecting; who know a symbiote could be an outcast on his (or her?) own world? That doesn’t mean it isn’t without not some absolutely out-of-left-field scenes and moments (a restaurant scene stands out in a bad way), perhaps attributed to the uncertainty in tone; Venom oscillates between body horror, comedy, and buddy cop crime sub-genres to name a few, passable/competent in all yet excelling in none.
As imperfect as it may be, moving between these various genres does grant Venom a level of consistent interest, if only because it is kind of unpredictable from a “superhero” standpoint. The unorthodox nature of it is fascinating. This happens to be a good thing that gives Venom some flavor in spite of the base story lacks sting. Honestly, everyone outside of Hardy’s lacks sting here. And, it isn’t like Sony could only afford enough money to land one star; Williams and Ahmed are mega-talented A and B-listers with the ability to carry a movie for stretches if the character writing allows (which Venom‘s trio of writers fail to do).
Venom is decidedly old-school, feeling like a distant cousin of Sam Raimi’s web-slinger trilogy and David S. Goyer’s/Guillermo del Toro’s Blade movies. On one hand, seeing this type of approach used by director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) does help Venom stand out from its superhero brethren. On the other technical hand, there’s no fathomable reason why the CGI on display is this shoddy and the lighting this dark. A PG-13 offering could still mask the violence and not be muddled, with the biggest offender of this being the climatic showdown. The Playstation 2 had better graphics.
Compared to the similar and superior movie that is Upgrade, Venom is lesser. Even with Venom’s frustrations, the box office haul shows there’s a rabid audience for this character sans Peter Parker or with him, and a killer mid-credits scene puts all possibilities on deck for an anticipated sequel. There’s a lethally great formula somewhere in Venom, but it may take another bite to get it perfected.
Photo credits go to indiewire.com, and digitalspy.com.
Follow me at @MovieManJackson/@Markjacksonisms/@actionmarkjackson (IG)