Review: ‘Venom’ Solo Film Gets Sucked Into a Poisoned, Lifeless Void

Venom (2018) - Movie Review

The Return of Venom Fails Hard After a Decade-Long Wait

For many Spider-Man die-hards, the Venom character has been quite the fan favorite. It’s truly a shame the alien symbiote has never been given his proper cinematic due. Granted, Spider-Man 3 “tried” its hand little over a decade ago. The final chapter’s abysmal writing and plotting seemed to tack the character on at the last minute. It’s been a sluggish 11 years waiting for redemption, but Sony is giving the super creature its very own film.

Staying true to his origins, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative journalist out to deliver a breaking story by any means necessary. Instead of the manipulative scumbag we witnessed in Sam Raimi’s trilogy, this Brock’s slightly more genuine in his reporting. His latest assignment entangles him with the corruption at Life Corporation and its generic evil corporate head, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). The organization has its hands on the oogey gooey alien symbiote. Despite public denial, Drake and his henchmen are attempting to bond the creature with a human host.

Brock’s relentless snooping around the Life Corporation ultimately leads the symbiote to bond with him. Without any concrete Spider-Man connection in Venom, it’s not exactly the origin story most comic book fans have been accustomed the past 35 years. This is the first of many indications that this is Venom strictly in name only. Unfortunately, Venom sucks audiences back into a poisoned, generic void that the superhero genre has triumphantly escaped from and transcended years ago. Well, for the most part. A Green Lantern or Fantastic Four has the tendency to creep out occasionally. And joining that lackluster list is an unavoidable consequence for Venom.

SEE ALSO: Venom Review: A Not So Marvelous Misfire

The failure of Venom in its ultimate vision. Tom Hardy is accomplished actor thanks to films like Dunkirk, Inception and Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises and The Revenant. His mumbling, masked persona, albeit done countless times suits him. The role of Eddie Brock does him no favors. This anti-hero character is rather constrained, though his banter later in the film with the symbiote attempts to make up for lost time. Michelle Williams as the generic love interest and Ahmed’s bland corporate baddie Drake are uninspired additions. Both have worked with superior material in the past.

Director Ruben Fleischer has his roots in comedy with Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less. The big-budget superhero spectacle is just one endeavor too far to realize properly. When Venom bats out the occasional humor, it sticks for the most part. But a majority of the film is constantly asking what kind of film does Venom want to be? Tonally, Venom is out of control – from horrific to hilarious at times, the whiplash cannot be ignored. Perhaps it’s a blessing that Venom is off misfiring in its own little corner. Imagine if by some nightmarish scenario, this was connected into the lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe like Spider-Man: Homecoming a year ago. Then again, let’s not.

It’s no secret that Sony focused on a PG-13 rating, which might have frustrated many fans of the character. Venom is notorious for being vicious, even biting off the heads of its enemies. The film has its moments to deliver on the goods, but never goes all-in due to some editing choices. In this day and age, violent and vulgar superhero films aren’t as taboo as they were a decade ago. Even from a financial perspective, there seems to be a certain demand for the sub-genre. It’s no crime to cut back on Venom’s dirty deeds, but it’s one of the lesser flaws the film is bogged down by.

Who knows when Venom will be given the proper justice on the big screen. Even with now a full film dedicated to the character, it’s a sad day indeed when those few climactic minutes in Spider-Man 3 start looking good.

Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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