Saturday, 6 October 2018

Film Review: Venom

Fan-favourite Spidey rival Venom gets a solo venture courtesy of director Ruben Fleischer and starring Tom Hardy – and despite its best efforts, this lethargic slog lacks the panache of its web-slinging cousin.

Okay, let's get the confusing stuff out of the way; yes, Venom is a character closely tied to Spider-man comic-books. No, this movie doesn't feature Spidey, Tom Holland, any of the other Avengers or crossover with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in any way shape or form. That's where the issues start (and certainly not where they end), because when all is said and done, even though Venom has its redeeming qualities, this superhero spin-off is in dire need of the heart, humour, polish and panache that audiences have come to expect from these Marvel joints. 

The film centres around investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy), who finds himself out of a job and separated from his lawyer fiancee Annie (Michelle Williams, presumably in the market for a larger swimming pool) after he leverages sensitive information from her work laptop for a story on shady Elon Musk-esque billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Down on his luck, Eddie delves a little deeper in Drake's secretive business and lands himself a gnarly symbiote from outer space (don't you just hate it when that happens). The gooey entity – which calls itself Venom – speaks to Eddie and bestows him with a number of special abilities, which Eddie puts to good use in combating Drake's nefarious operation.

So here's the bottom line; Venom isn't up there with cinematic abominations such as Catwoman or Green Lantern. It's not even bad enough to be oddly entertaining, like 1997's Batman and Robin or fascinatingly chopped to pieces in the editing room, like Josh Trank's 2015 Fantastic Four. It just washes over you, neither entertaining or horrifying enough to hold your attention. Neither good nor bad enough that it's good, I found myself strangely bored by the mish-mash of ugly VFX, dark cinematography and uninspired design oozing from every frame.

There's a lot of talent striving to excel, but the writing is what puts the kybosh on that; Williams' character is as bland as white bread, and shares about as much chemistry with Hardy as two soggy logs. Ahmed's villain is your standard scheming corporate cardboard cut-out. At least Hardy is having fun with it – his performance is filled with weird idiosyncrasies and ticks that range from inspired to downright bizarre.

There are some moments of schlocky horror; there are some moments of side-splitting humour. But in hedging its bets, Venom excels at nothing in particular. It's very telling that the screenplay is credited to four different writers; or that Fleischer as recently as July was promising a grisly, MA-rated movie, rather than the more muted M rating it has been slapped with (the camera cuts away every time Venom's gaping maw is about to tear into someone's neck).

One could argue Venom would've been better had all involved stuck to their guns and served up something gory and aimed at adults (like Logan or Deadpool), but more violence wouldn't fix its myriad other issues; cinematography, performances, writing – you get the idea.

The Verdict: 3.5/10

At the end of the day, this film is just the latest effort from a studio that isn't Marvel trying to ape Marvel's formula – and it doesn't do a very good job. Just watch Leigh Whannell's Upgrade instead.

Venom is in cinemas across Australia now.

1 comment:

  1. I watched this film a couple of days ago. Due the the awful reviews I was expecting hot trash and that's what I got! I weirdly enjoyed it though. Nice review btw :)



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