Published on October 5th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls0
We don’t think anyone will be surprised that Venom ended up being the horrible train wreck that most of us expected it to be. Yeesh.
Years of trolling and anguish have beaten down fans since Marvel’s character Venom first appeared in 2007’s infamous disaster, Spider-Man 3. For a project that’s been tantalizing audiences for eleven years, Venom is unnecessarily rushed, undercooked, and half-assed.
Venom is a messy, aggravating movie filled with filmmaking faux pas galore. It feels like it was made by twelve-year-olds instead of for twelve-year-olds. The dialogue and plot nearly set new lows for modern superhero movies. There is little redeeming the movie’s miserable existence and yet… Tom Hardy brings Eddie Brock and his parasitic alter-ego to life in such a way that the picture becomes a fascinating high wire feat of overacting. It’s impossible to outright recommend the movie but the perverse weirdness prevalent every moment Hardy is on screen does make it an oddity to remember in its own way.
Venom is not connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it; to make that clear, the story is moved far away from a certain webslinger’s New York to San Francisco where the mumbling and earnest Eddie Brock works as an online journalist bringing the city’s scum to light. Eddie barks up the wrong tree investigating a spacecraft crash from a Space X-like corporation headed by boring villain Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). He loses his job, his fiancée (Michelle Williams), and his hope until he merges with one of Drake’s retrieved alien parasites. The superbeing Venom now lives inside Eddie and the two bicker and fight before realizing that they’re better off working together to stop a hostile invasion from outer space.
With a movie like this you should at the very least be able to expect impressive visual effects, if nothing else. Venom doesn’t break any new ground there so even the optics of this dumpster fire are disappointing. Actors like Ahmed and Williams sleepwalk through the proceedings trying to dodge as much of the shame and blame as possible. Director Ruben Fleischer scored big with Zombieland years ago but hits his career low here. One can’t entirely blame him, though, as he’s really more of a hired gun overseeing a major studio’s cash cow and not a purely creative or artistic voice.
The jumbled, incoherent editing doesn’t hide or help the film’s flaws, it emphasizes them. Cuts are mismatched and entire scenes stumble around without purpose or style. Sony has been aching for a superhero franchise all of its own and perhaps expectations were set too high for Venom to be their savior. You can almost feel the producers worrying so much about screwing it up that all they can possibly do is screw it up.
There are few audiences to recommend Venom to, although the fans of Nicolas Cage’s wildest performances (i.e. The Wicker Man) will undoubtedly dig the “so bad it’s good” moments that are bound for cult midnight showings and YouTube clip compilations. Major caveats are advised for those who purchase tickets and we can only hope that all money earned will go towards funding some actual ingenuity for the inevitable sequel.