Tom Hardy stars as Venom - the latest Marvel character to undergo the big screen treatment.Now, I’m not a major, die-hard comic book fan, I’ve dabbled here and there and read a few in my time but I would never by a long stretch say I know everything there is to know. But I am fully aware of how hard it must be for filmmakers and production companies to try and please both new and old fans. And, oftentimes it is the die-hard fans that come away disappointed.
With already more Marvel and DC comic-book to screen releases than I can count on my hands and toes, comes yet another one. This time though it’s an anti-hero superhero movie in the form of Venom, perhaps in a similar vein to that of the Deadpool movies…I feel like I’ve already put a foot wrong.
Once it finds its feet, it’s easy to get sucked into the action.
Forgoing the original origins of the Venom suit (originally and mistakenly created by Spiderman during Secret Wars) director Ruben Fleischer and his band of screen writers have given Venom a much simpler origin. Leader of Life Foundation, billionaire turned self designated saviour of the planet, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is determined to find a solution to overpopulation and depleted resources. Extending his search into the outer reaches of space, Drake discovers new form of life, but one that can only exist when matched with the perfect host.
Enter Eddie Brock: (Tom Hardy) a cutting edge investigative journalist eager to blow the lid wide open on any untoward shady goings on, a guy who has a conscience but isn’t always able, or perhaps confident enough, to act upon it. Armed with some confidential evidence that threatens to expose Life Foundation, Brock stumbles upon Drake’s secret discovery and unwillingly becomes host to one of his science projects. Having absorbed a strange otherworldly substance, Brock starts to notice his body changing, an insatiable appetite combined with a mysterious voice suggests that he is no longer completely himself. And so begins a game of Jekyll and Hyde like proportions, albeit a tad tame.
The thing with Venom is that it/he is a character who is supposed to be dark and a bit on the deranged side; I mean, he has rows of sharp jagged teeth - all the better to feast upon human body parts. A somewhat misguided vigilante you might say. But despite Fleischer’s and the production team’s vision of Venom looking the part here he is actually pretty chill, describing himself at one point as a loser?! What?! It seems like instead of going full hog, like Deadpool, and fully committing to how awesome Venom could be, they instead opted for a safer more generic offering, one suitable for as wider audience as possible. But, in spite of all that - it is an enjoyable movie. A bit slow to get going, and let’s face it we all want to get to the bits with Venom straight away, but once it found it’s feet, it was easy to get sucked into the action.
Tom Hardy is completely acceptable as Eddie Brock, there is a slightly questionable accent that wavers a bit in places, but otherwise he is fun to watch, especially when he’s trying to figure out what or who Venom is. Michelle Williams plays Anne Weying, Brock’s defence lawyer fiancé. Even though she’s a bit limited in this role, Williams does get to have some fun as Anne and proves she can keep up with the boys. The one person who didn’t get much room to flex their, now very well established, acting chops was Riz Ahmed. Playing a very stiff and generic bad guy, Ahmed never got the chance to go to town as Drake and be the real villain in this anti-superhero movie.
Instead of fully committing to how awesome Venom could be, they opted for a safer more generic offering.
There were some pretty good action and fight sequences, granted completely drenched in CGI, but they were all mostly executed well - some shaky camera movement and dimly lit scenes aside. The script wasn’t exactly on fire but there were quite a few laughs coming from the audience which must mean they did something right. The humour comes courtesy of the repartee between Brock and Venom as they learn to get along and try to exist symbiotically. The main downside to Venom is that it spends a lot of time building up the story and setting the scene but before you know it, it’s over. It’s quite possibly one of the most anti-climatic endings I have ever seen. But I suspect that this is just the first instalment of yet another franchise - if the post-credit scene is anything to go by, which looks quite promising.
Venom is probably better if you know nothing about Venom comic-book-lore and are able to just enjoy the film for what it is. But there will be always be those who find fault with any type of adaptation, which is completely understandable. I doubt it will stand up to the likes of Deadpool or some of the other Marvel franchises, but it in spite of this, it remains a fun watch with some good action sequences and decent performances from the leads.
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