REVIEW: Deeply flawed ‘Venom’ still manages to offer some fun

For those of you who don’t know, this “Venom” movie has basically nothing to do with Spider-Man or the Marvel universe. Sad face.

“Venom” tells the story of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a broadcast news reporter who’s had good, consistent success in the journalism industry. His latest story, though, brings him into contact with a powerful pharma exec named Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Because he asks too many questions in his interview, Drake manages to end Brock’s career.

As Brock struggles to get back on his feet, Drake’s company does unethical experiments, culminating with the forcing of a sentient alien substance to interact with humans. When Brock finds out, he decides to try his hand at investigative journalism again, but this lands him in more trouble when he becomes attached to one of the aliens named Venom. While the two begin at odds, they eventually form a deal to take Drake down.

The story of “Venom” is honestly not all that new. Basically, it’s reminiscent of any mid-2000s comic book origins movie. The story as a whole is a paint-by-numbers affair, as most audience members can guess what’s going to happen next.

Along with using a predictable formula, “Venom” also feels rather shallow. The picture has a villain working in the pharmaceutical industry, but it never felt like this was present to make a point, rather, it was for the villain have access to scientific resources. It’s comparable to the Norman Osborn character in the first “Spider-Man.”

Another shallow feature to the whole thing was the relationship between Brock and his ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). It comes of as forced and without passion.

Much of these story elements just pale in comparison to other recent movies in the genre, such as “Black Panther” or “Logan” from last year.

With all that said, and with all of the complaints in mind, “Venom” still somehow, someway manages to be pretty fun.

This is a film that knows it’s an adaptation of a comic book with a fairly absurd concept, and it embraces that. The film is extremely schlocky and campy in the best way, and as a result, it has some good entertainment value.

As previously stated, there’s very little in terms of depth. Brock’s plight, for example, doesn’t carry much weight. But the film’s humor and willingness to go over-the-top is legitimately amusing.

It almost feels as if this is a B-movie with a budget, considering how outrageous it gets in some of the sequences

Helping the whole thing out is Hardy. As usual with his work, the guy fully commits to the character and goes all in. Is his performance over-the-top? Yup. Does he chew scenery? Absolutely. Does it make for some exciting cinema? You bet.

Hardy also does the voice work for Venom, and the tech crew on the film did solid work changing the vocals to sound monstrous. It’s also great that Brock and Venom were written to have some fun banter and a few comical one-liners.

The supporting cast doesn’t add all that much, though. Williams, who’s an extraordinarily talented actress, just goes through the motions here as the semi-love interest. Ahmed, meanwhile, feels generic and uninspired as the main villain.

When it comes to the action, “Venom” has its ups and downs. The highlight when it comes to action is a chase sequence where the lead characters are on a motorcycle in the second act. It’s fast paced, creative, and downright wild. There are a few nice fight scenes here-and-there, too.

However, the final battle is somewhat of a mess. It features two characters who have very dark ‘costumes’ fighting each other at night. Not only do these factors make it hard to see exactly what’s going on, but the CGI isn’t the best at times, adding to the issues.

To sum it all up, “Venom” isn’t a “good” movie by normal standards, and especially falls behind other recent pictures in the genre. Yet, it’s schlocky enough to actually be a fun thing to watch. This one comes to a 2.85 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: