For years Sony has been trying to get their Spider-verse off the ground. Sam Raimi initially had the most success with his trilogy, but with Amazing Spider-Man they had big plans, until the second in the franchise failed to perform. Now while Spider-Man has officially found his stride within the Marvel Universe with Spider-Man Homecoming it looks as though Sony is hoping to keep their Spider-verse franchise on track with the latest being Venom. The film stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate and Tom Hardy in the lead role as Eddie Brock aka Venom with Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer at helm. Could this latest attempt to bring the famed Spider-man nemesis to the big screen deliver or will it fail to bond with the audience?
Venom follows Eddie Brock who acquires the powers of a symbiote and will have to release his alter-ego "Venom" to save his life and possibly the world. I was hit and miss with the trailers as well as the entire aspect of trying to keep it separate from the Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but decided to see how they altered the story and just see if it would work. I know there have been a lot of negative reactions to it which kind of baffles me. It is not a perfect film by any means but as a whole it was still a lot of fun and Tom Hardy delivered on every level. The story is pretty much the same in design of the original comic story just with someone else outing Brock instead of Parker. This actually made it very easy to accept it without Spider-Man and to be honest I never thought much of it once it gets going. To me it felt like the later versions of Venom in the comics when he started getting his own books and expanding into a universe all his own.
The film takes a slow burn approach to get to know Brock and those around him in the hopes of making his crash in life more impactful. During this time it is a bit klunky at times with the biggest issue for me being Michelle Williams. I usually like her ok, but in this film she just felt flat like she was just walking through the motions. I honestly didn’t see any chemistry there which hurts some elements of the rest of the film since we are supposed to buy into their relationship. Riz Ahmed was fine, but not all that great of a villain and felt kind of generic. Thankfully there are bigger elements to take front and center and help make the rest of the movie more entertaining.
The relationship between Brock and Venom is probably the best part of this entire movie. A lot of the action and interaction reminded me of Leigh Whannell’s badass film Upgrade that got some of it a lot better, but here it still worked. Their dialogue and struggle against each other not only worked for me it kind of humanized Venom and became a somewhat enduring dysfunctional relationship that was fun to watch. For this film to really work though they had to be able to get the look and feel of the characters to work and I loved it. Sure there are some cheesy strange moments that could have been ditched, but seeing Venom wreak havoc gave my inner geek so much joy. There are some effects, most notably of the close-ups of Hardy during the motorcycle sequence that was silly looking and took away some from the cool stuff that was happening.
There are some great moments in the film getting to see Venom actually be Venom, but there are a lot of things that keep this film limping along to a pace that may not work for some. I see a promising franchise and still the ability to bring in Tom Holland’s Spider-man at some point, but with the awesome mid-credit sequence I would prefer they didn’t anytime soon. Hardcore Venom fans will likely not fully buy into it all, but I enjoyed the over the top cheese and borderline horror elements to it. I truly hope to see more of Hardy as Brock and that maybe it will clean up the missed moments to make a better sequel with a lot more of this universe to be unleashed from its cell. Stick through the credits for two completely different bonus sequences that are a ton of fun.
Review by Bobby Blakey - Bobby reviews way more movies on his own website than the genre-specific ones I post here. Check out Bobby's awesome website and his live show he co-hosts with his wife, Drusilla, at Hollywood Matrimony.