Written by: Zane Brumley/Media contributed by: Elbert Lawrence
Ruben Fleischer’s antihero film about one of Spider-Man’s greatest threats is a fun ride, though it lacks the depth the friendly neighborhood hero usually provides. Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist that thrives on exposing conspiracies, which later gets him into trouble. This makes a different turn from his comic book counterpart who acts a foil for Peter Parker. So Eddie isn’t all bad, but he’s not the nicest character in the world. He’s a bit self-serving, but he has some heart. Naturally, the real standout of the film is Venom himself. He injects some fish-out-of-water comedy that is enhanced by the terror he induces. The film does a good job of portraying Venom’s violent nature without actually showing the gory messes he creates. I’m sure that many of Venom’s fans would have preferred a rated R feature for the symbiotic creature, but I think the film does an okay job without.
RED ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film’s weaknesses stem from the lack of depth that’s possible with the characters, but that doesn’t mean the film is bad. What I mean is this: had this film been for a Spider-Man feature, there would have been an interesting dynamic between Eddie and Peter Parker. In the comics, Peter is supposed to be an upstanding guy: he doesn’t edit his photos he gets for J. Jonah Jameson, but Eddie straight up forges those. Now, despite the lack of Spidey, I can’t say they did a bad job with handling Eddie and Venom’s relationship.
The place where I really find the flaws of the film is the portrayal of Eddie and from the lack of memorable musical scoring. I love Tom Hardy as much as the next guy, but I wasn’t too impressed with his portrayal of Eddie in the film. He does an alright job most of the time, though I wasn’t completely sold on his accent. Otherwise, Hardy really acts his booty off for the role, and my favorite part of his performance coming from the initial experience with Venom.
The second glaring issue to me came from Ludwig Goransson’s score. I can’t remember a single bit of it, and I’m one to typically seek out a soundtrack after viewing a film. Unfortunately, Goransson didn’t have me jamming to the soundtrack like I was after his Black Panther score. Despite these relatively minor issues, I enjoyed the film for what it is.
I don’t sit in the camp of people that believe a film’s potential should be measured against the final product. The strengths, if we take Venom at face value, is that it’s still a fun, action-filled romp, even though it wasn’t what fans may have wanted. The movie is beautifully shot, I’ve got to give it to cinematographer Matthew Libatique. The man has had some experience with superhero films before, mainly Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and both also having outstanding action sequences. Some of the action sequences between Venom and Riot are amazing to look at. Props the visual effects team on that one, too.
There are some certainly unique combat experiences that will no doubt be remembered by audiences. The film presents a dingy aesthetic that Eddie Brock lives in and often patrols, while villain Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) sits in his clean, shiny science facility. While Spider-Man is not in the film at all, Eddie is still provided a foil through Drake. Eddie is at his lowest after the start of the film and Drake is at his highest when he has the symbiotes contained (for the most part). The dynamic between the hero and villain are a shadow of the kind of impact a Spider-Man versus Venom film would be, but I can’t complain since there was still some dramatic tension between the protagonist and antagonist.
Really, go see Venom if you want an action movie to chill out to. It’s reviews online might be a bit jaded, as fandoms can do some cruel activity when they aren’t appeased. The film won’t disappoint the average movie goer, and I maintain that there’s nothing wrong with taking a movie at its face value.