If you are a Marvel Comics fan you are likely to love the adapted anti-hero film Venom, despite it not faithfully following the comic book series; for the rest of us maybe not so much.
Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) reluctantly agrees to do a puff piece on Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the billionaire industrialist with a dubious background. But unable to help himself from asking “Don’t go there!” questions of powerful people, he finds himself kicked to the curb with no job, no girlfriend and no future.
In the meantime Drake’s survivalist Life Foundation has found alien beings in outer space and brought them back to Earth where in the hopes of finding an alternative planet for humans to live on, Drake starts using homeless people in human trials to provide compatible hosts to the symbiote aliens.
From here it all gets a bit chaotic. Brock becomes infected by one of the aliens called Venom, who takes over his body; Drake is in hot pursuit to have Venom returned, there is a wild car chase, guns and explosions – it is a classic tale of bad versus evil. In defence of director Ruben Fleisher, this premise is probably quite tricky to pull off.
Where Venom falls short is in its story development (amazing considering it had four writers!). Cinematic sluglines saying “6 months later” are nearly always an indication of laziness and with the original comic book characters being so deliciously complex it is disappointing that all the characters with the exception of Brock are so limited and two dimensional.
For the purists the exclusion of Spiderman may be confusing, this apparently has more to do with the legal business arrangements between Sony & Marvel Entertainment than any creative choices. And the films ending felt cut short and unresolved, although that may be because Venom is a stand-alone introduction to a sequel.
Don’t get me wrong, Venom the movie isn’t all bad. This movie teeters on that fine line between being just plain bad and being so bad that it’s good. This is fitting for how messy it is, but an action-packed and fun mess.
The character Venom gives the audience some solid LOL moments with his off-beat one liners and his relationship with Brock. Tom Hardy is maybe the only member of the cast that got the comedy memo and nailed it.
There are moments reminiscent of the ‘80s classic Big Trouble in Little China mashed up with the Marvel adroitness we have enjoyed in Spiderman, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – in short if you liked any of these films, you won’t regret buying a ticket to see Venom.
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