Venom: a Marvel, or a turd in the wind?

Venom (2018)
Source: IMDb

The Spiderman franchise has always been a huge part of my childhood. I had watched Sam Raimi’s trilogy as well as the animated series. Yet, there was a character that fuelled my curiosity: Venom.  Ever since watching Spiderman 3 in the cinema, I always wondered about the origins of Brock/Venom. Did Brock/Venom have heroic intentions hidden behind his sadistic exterior?

Flash-forward to eleven years later where news had spread that The Dark Knight Rises’ actor, Tom Hardy, would star as Eddie Brock/Venom. Like every Marvel – and DC – fan, I was ecstatic. First Bane, now Venom? Shut up and take my money! But this led to more questions — would Hardy’s performance top Topher Grace’s from Spiderman 3? Would the film present him as an anti-hero, like Deadpool?

On its release date I rushed to Gunwharf’s Vue, where I ordered my ticket and a massive box of popcorn before rushing to take my seat.

Two hours later after watching Venom, I left the cinema with a bittersweet view on the film. I will start by discussing the main controversy surrounding the film: the pacing. They cut forty minutes of the film’s plot-line. As a result, they brushed over the story-line, particularly the death of one of the scientists. Since they failed to show how it affected Brock, this gave less impact to their death. The change of setting felt disorientating at first. Having a Spiderman-based character live outside of New York City made it feel unlike Spiderman. But the story reveals that the New York newspaper fired Brock for a previous incident, which was an ingenious way of linking back to the Spiderman franchise. The film cleverly cuts back and forth to Riot killing people in its journey across Malaysia. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the film, due to the tension created. It left me excited to see the showdown between the protagonist and the escaped symbiote.

Sadly, the characters never developed throughout the film. Or they acted out of character at unexpected times. For instance, when Eddie meets Anne’s fiancé, he doesn’t shake hands and seems on unfriendly terms with him. I assumed it was due to suspicions of Anne cheating. But cut to ten minutes later, and he acts as if the hostility between the two men had never happened. This sudden change in behaviour was jarring.

The main aspect that interested me was the relationship between Anne and Eddie. Both Hardy and Williams displayed great chemistry between one another, both as lovers then as friends at the end of the film. Their relationship challenges the on-and-off relationship seen within the Spiderman franchise, most notoriously with Mary Jane and Peter’s relationship. The actors’ convincing performances brought the characters to life, especially Tom Hardy as Brock/Venom. The duality between Brock and Venom was the film’s highlight. Hardy managed to convey this relationship effectively. His hilarious performance as Venom evoked fond memories of Deadpool.

The soundtrack was catchy, particularly the final song ‘Venom’ by Eminem. His music is amazing and was one of the reasons why I stayed during the end credits. Sometimes the music was loud, especially in the chase scenes, but it worked to create a frightening tone during the scenes.

Also, the special effects were creative in the showdown between Venom and the antagonist. What was cool was that they appeared to be trying to rip the symbiote from their hosts.

Ultimately, this film does display the crazy, comedic tone from the comics. What it fails to convey is a coherent story. With the film being only one hour and fifty minutes, I would have preferred an extra forty minutes of film time, so that the filmmakers could have explored the story-line in further detail and developed the characters. This brings me to the question I pondered at the beginning of the review: was Hardy a better Brock/Venom than Grace? In short, yes. His method acting was the highlight of the film. The scenes where he spoke to Venom were well acted, presenting Brock’s emotional and physical conflict toward the symbiote in a creative way. As such, Venom expresses the dichotomy between man and monster successfully.

If you are into science fiction films, or Spiderman, this film is for you.

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