Movie Review: Venom



Photo courtesy of AP Images.

Expecting your friendly neighborhood web-slinger? Sorry, this time is all about your lethal protector.

Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) has taken the weekend’s box office at full swing as he brings to life one of Spider-Man’s most vicious adversaries in Venom making the antihero’s long waited for cinematic debut nationwide this past Oct 5.

The story takes place in San Francisco where investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) is living the life. He has a successful journalism career, soon to be married to sweetheart Anne Weying (Michelle Willaims, Shutter Island), he is never afraid to ask the hard questions and he ultimately bonds with a black slimy parasitic alien that gives him unlimited power.

When it was first announced that Venom would have his own solo film, it was said to be the beginning of a new Marvel franchise under the Sony and Columbia Pictures banner.  This took the entire comic book community by storm bringing excitement, hope and of course a lot more of Marvel to savor ever so enjoyable.

However, with simply 112 minutes to watch one can’t help but feel that this enthusiastic endeavor to bring out one of  Spidey’s most popular characters to live-action fell short in many significant elements that made Venom the iconic character he is today.

For those who follow the source material to heart know that Spider-Man is ultimately the driving force of his universe including everyone who comes from it. Which is why it feels extremely odd to see a version where Peter Parker is not the first one to wear the symbiote, but instead Sony goes straight to Eddie Brock and him becoming Venom in such an irrational way. It might had worked should the people at Sony had decided to stay accurate with the comics.

The story itself is rushed. Not enough time to treat everyone properly. The scenes lacked build-up and for those that had some, the payoff was just as weak.

One thing that is very much present in both comics and film is the viciousness and sadistic personally the character known for.  He possesses the teeth, the muscles, and the raw power as he thrashes everything in the way. I must admit however, Venom not incorporating his iconic white spider symbol on his chest truly hurt.

Tom Hardy as the title character is the main high point of the film. He brings a perfect balance of good qualities while retaining the ambitious personality that tends to get him off the rail.  His interaction with the symbiote is actually quite funny applying the whole shoulder angel mind trick. It helps ease the tension throughout the film.

Where in the comics their relationship is formed from their hate towards Spider-Man, the relationship is grounded by their need to survive and change of heart.

Lastly, the film’s antagonist Carlton Drake/Riot (Riz Ahmed, Rogue One) did no favors to the overall appeal of the film. The character was by far the weakest element. Without any integral connection to Brock and Drake’s minimal contribution to the overall plot, he is undeniably forgettable and distasteful. For an origin story, the use of Riot as the opposing force to beat fell completely flat.

In the end, Venom didn’t hit all the marks it should have but remains a welcoming addition with potential for improvement for planned sequels at the hands of the right writers. Expanding the running time to a whole 150 minutes will definitely help to allow more narrative and proper treatment, and of course, having a Spider-Man/Venom match-up against Carnage will make everyone lose their brains.

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