Small Screen Reviews
Sony Pictures Releasing
What’s It About?
A journalist investigating a leading scientist and entrepreneur becomes infected by an alien in the laboratory, and goes on to develop the powers of the symbiote.
Who’s In It?
Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, The Revenant, & more recently Peaky Blinders)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, & more recently All The Money In The World, The Greatest Showman)
Other notables include:
Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, & more recently In The Night Of)
Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad)
Venom may well be a firm fan favourite from the comic world, but his involvement in the movie world has been quite disappointing. After an unfavourable entrance in Spider-Man 3, the character has now bagged his own movie with Tom Hardy in the lead role. Unfortunately the fans have been increasingly anxious about this movie, not least because it is in fact not part of Marvel’s MCU, but instead from the Sony stable – and the pain of the Spidey films is still palpable.
And then there were those tweets from Elizabeth Banks, also a Spidey 3 alumnii, which certainly did help matters after she suggested that Venom looked like he was ingesting something entirely inappropriate.
As it happens, the intro for Venom is fine, if a little by the numbers, as a bouncy and bubbly Tom Hardy – playing investigative reporter Eddie Brock, who makes an enemy of leading scientist and entrepreneur Carlton Drake, resulting in him promptly losing his job and his fiancé. A further investigation of Drake’s laboratories ultimately leads to Brock getting infected and playing host to an alien species with superhuman strength and an insatiable appetite for humans.
Tom Hardy's Brock is all nervous energy and fidgety mess when we first meet him, and he does well enough with the limited characterisation in the opening act as his character hits hard times and then becomes infected, but it is here that the problems mount as he gets caught in a tug of war – Gollum-esque – with his mind and the action flits awkwardly between comedy and brutal violence with neither side succeeding.
Riz Ahmed is painted as a bog standard rent-a-villain, but still resembles a character that Michelle Williams can only have looked enviously at, given her supremely underwhelming role.
As the action builds and the film reaches its predictable special effects crescendo, one is left wondering what might have been with what conceivably is an interesting anti-hero and a woefully underused yet impressive cast.
In A Nutshell:
Despite the premise of an interesting character and a fine cast, the weak script, odd tone and woeful characterisation render Venom toothless.
The opening act
The script, the tone and the characterisation
Release date: 04/02/2019