You can’t accuse Marvel of resting on their laurels. Not content with having some of the biggest franchises on the screen now, they’re always looking for more.
The latest is Venom, a sort of bad-guy turned not quite-as-bad guy, oh and also, not a guy at all, or a woman, more a…it. Not like a clown it, more a parasite it, except, don’t call it a parasite, it doesn’t like being called a parasite.
Venom, for those of you who aren’t Marvel fanboys, has been around since the mid 80’s when it first arrived on the scene and took over Spider-Man. Spider-Man, being the goody two shoes that he is, managed to separate from Venom when he learned he wasn’t all that good.
Next up the symbiotic host comes across Eddie Brock, in the film played by Tom Hardy (“Locke”, “Dunkirk“), whose an investigative journalist who breaks into billionaire Carlton Drake’s, Riz Ahmed (“Rogue One“, “Nightcrawler”), science lab as it’s Drake who brought these things to Earth from space. Drakes a sort of Elon Musk type character, not worried about killing a few homeless people for the sake of science (not that I’m saying Musk does that).
Amazingly, Brock is the perfect match for this host and so they become Venom, fighting off Drakes goons. Drake meanwhile gets a host of his own, known as Riot, who wants to use Drakes rocket to head into space and pick up his friends, so they can come back to Earth and feast on the humans. Venom must step in and save the day.
Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer is the man handed director duties, whilst The Dark Tower and The 5th Wave writer Jeff Pinker, along with Scott Rosenberg (“Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle“, “Gone In Sixty Seconds”) and Kelly Marcel (“Saving Mr Banks”, “50 Shades Of Grey”) type the whole shebang up.
Venom is, as you’d expect, an introductory piece. It needs to set the scene, it needs to tell you how and why this alien being is on Earth, what it wants, what it’s going to do. Think of the amount of times we’ve seen Batman or Spider-Man’s origin story, well, this is Venom’s.
As such, it can be quite difficult to make that as exciting and entertaining as a story whereby you already know the character, where you can crack straight on with the fun.
Fleischer and co. do a not bad job at all of telling the story of Venom, adding a love interest in Michelle Williams (“Manchester By The Sea“, “Wonderstruck”) and casting Tom Hardy are both moves that work well for the film.
This is a different role for Hardy. A large, mainstream picture but he’s actually a loser, just a loser with a parasite that’s giving him superhuman strength. He’s very good in the role, all timid and unsure but also kinda liking it at times.
The CGI of Venom is a tad strange. IT can look a little cartoonish at times, Saturday morning kids’ TV type cartoonish. I guess, on the one hand, they’ve kept Venom looking like you may have seen him on TV or in the comics, on the other hand, it’s not quite what you’d expect from a multi-million-dollar Marvel film.
The movie is darkly funny, and all of this should come together to make for a great picture, but it doesn’t. Not quite.
The reason, or reasons, for Venom turning on his brethren and taking the humans side are weak, if there at all. Some of the action sequences, particularly the final fight sequence (there’s always a final fight sequence) is shot far to close-up so you miss a lot of the action.
The comedy aspects, whilst they can be funny, give the film an unusual twist as it can feel like The Odd Couple at times, except one of them wants to bite people’s heads off…the juxtaposition of these two things is just wrong, it doesn’t click.
Venom is a good film that should have been better. It’s not as bad as a lot of critics are panning it for, I was entertained and, in the end, what more do you expect from a Marvel film?