Venom 4K Blu-ray Review
Lacks the spark that gives Marvel films their charm
Venom 4K Blu-ray Film Review
Eye, lungs, pancreas. So many snacks, so little timeVenom, the fan favourite anti-hero, after being relegated to third villain in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 3, finally gets his chance to shine, in a standalone feature, sans the web-head, in a Marvel produced picture by Sony with Tom Hardy in the titular role and Ruben Fleischer directing.
When the Life foundation rocket malfunctions and crash-lands, its nefarious mission to capture symbiotic aliens misfires when one escapes and another is accidentally bonded to a disgraced news reporter, Eddie Brock. Venom gives Eddie new abilities which he needs when the heavies from Life come to collect the symbiote back. Meanwhile, his ex and her new doctor boyfriend discover that Venom is more of a parasite, feeding off of Eddie. And when the second symbiote, Rage, takes over the head of Life with the idea to bring back his whole race to take over the planet, Venom and Eddie become reluctant heroes.
The story premise takes its main cue from the comic books, just without Spider-Man: Brock, having ignored advice on how to do an interview, is ruined and disgraced, and is bonded to Venom when he enters the Life labs while trying to capture a story. The opening, showing how successful Brock is (engaged, well-paid job) contrasting with his downfall, is spoilt by the complete lack of chemistry between the two leads; you never really feel their connection and thus there is no real loss once Brock is disgraced. The main villain of the piece, Life’s CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is neither dark nor cool enough to invoke any real sense of evil, despite some nasty tendencies. Indeed, when the symbiote villain, Rage, comes to the fore, he too fails to ignite the screen with any tangible menace; as such the threat to the world seems out of place and uneventful.
There are, however, some glorious set pieces; the drone chase through the streets is wonderfully paced and terrific comic-book action. As is the final showdown between the two symbiotes. Venom, himself, is beautifully rendered even if his manic behaviour isn’t quite captured compared to his comic persona (a loser, really?). The film has a frantic pace and the fluidity of the camera movements compliment this. But what it really lacks is the spark that gives the Marvel films their charm; rather than one specific idea, there are a combination that ultimately let the film down. So, instead of being the Venom everybody wants, we are left with a film that tries to be a bit too safe but adds some edge by swearing and so sits in an unsatisfying middle ground. A superhero is only as good as his villain; maybe Venom is only as good as his hero…
Venom 4K Blu-ray Picture QualityVenom was shot digitally using a combination of Arri Alexa Mini, XT and RED Monstro 8K VV cameras with a resolution ranging from 3.4K up to 8K, but it appears (since the effects were rendered in 2K) that it was finished as a 2K DI (definitive information is scarce and conflicting), which has presumably been used here for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents an up-scaled 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Venom on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
You’d never know this was an upscale
Well, you’d never know this was an upscale, such is the upturn in finite detailing. Skin texture, clothing weaves, environmental edging (such as building facia’s, pavements, computer terminals and displays, office clutter and shop dressings) all show improvements, while panoramic shots of the city are incredible.
When it comes to the WCG and HDR things really become impressive: colours are rich and bold, all the primaries come off with aplomb; check out the blues of the labs, or of the drone attacks, the neon of the city and the depth of orange to the explosions, all the while keeping skin tones tame and natural. While the black level is incredible; the depth to frame is immense, adding pop to the colours, while holding strong shadow detail. And the white end of the scale is even better, the blinding explosions, the lights of the city at night, the highlights during day scenes help to push the picture out.
The source is pristine and there are no digital issues to contend with; a near immaculate picture.
Venom 4K Blu-ray Sound QualityThe Dolby Atmos track, even for an action film, is stonking. Right from the off, the low bass sets the mood, while the destruction of the spacecraft detonates from all the channels, reigning debris all around. The overhead channels are used extensively to enhance the surrounds providing a real sense of the environment; whether that is on the busy streets of San Francisco, with its cars, weather and crowds or in an experimentation lab, with the curl of the symbiote, computer chatter and scientists looking busy. Once the action heats up, such as the downtown car chase, the speakers really come alive, placing you firmly in the centre of the action. But it is with Venom’s voice where you get a real palpable sense of oppression, especially when only Eddie can hear it.
Dialogue is clean and clear, sounds very natural, given a little directionality, but mainly concentrated to the frontal array. Bass is deep and strong, tight and focused really adding impact to the action scenes (gunfire, explosions, engine revs) the gravel of Venom’s voice and filling out the score which, itself, makes full use of the surround environment. A tip top action track that makes use of the whole surround stage, although it is not that subtle, it gets by on pure adrenaline.
Venom 4K Blu-ray ExtrasThe UHD houses just the one extra, Venom Mode, all others are found on the included Blu-ray.
Venom Mode – Little more than a pop up trivia track, but the trivia comes fast and is informative.
Deleted & Extended Scenes – Three scenes, titled: Ride to Hospital, Car Alarm and San Quentin Extended.
The Anti-Hero – A 10 minute feature centring on how Eddie and Venom’s bond translates to the screen from its comic book roots, independent of Spider-Man, before delving into standard production.
The Lethal Protector in Action – 9 Minutes looking at various stunts and fight choreography that make up some of the action set pieces.
Venom Vision – 7 minutes examining Ruben Fleischer as the director.
Designing Venom – Brief 5 minutes look at the variations of Venom’s look and how it has been adapted for the movie.
Symbiote Secrets – Very brief, two and a half minute, look at some of the Easter eggs hidden in the film.
Select Scenes Pre-Vis – Just under 14 minutes of the animated storyboards that are now used to visualise the film, titles include: Carlton Drake Lab Test, Escape from the Foundation, Eddie's Checkup, Eddie's Apartment Fight, Bike Chase, Tower Climb, Lobby Fight and Dog Venom.
Music Videos – Two: Venom by Eminem, and Sunflower by Post Malone, Swae Lee 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Sneak Peek – 3 minutes sneak peek for a film that has been and gone; also found at the end of the main feature.
Venom 4K Blu-ray VerdictFan favourite Venom gets a second movie outing, this time as the protagonist, as it bonds with disgraced reporter Eddie Brock, and instead of creating mayhem, decides to protect the Earth from his own kind. There is a distinct comic book feel to the film and the action is pretty much non-stop, but it lacks that certain sparkle that gives most Marvel films their charm, mostly down to the characters that show little chemistry and a plot that is just another origin story.
As a 4K UHD set, the package from Sony is pretty good; the pictures, even though it is a 2K up-scale, is stunning; highly detailed, with good colouring, outstanding blacks and even better whites. The Dolby Atmos track is tremendous, with thunderous bass, pinpoint accuracy to the surroundscape and wonderful ambience. The extras package also covers a lot ground about the production.
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