Venom is an incredibly ambitious film that you can just jump right into with no prior knowledge and enjoy. After a slow and boring start it was able to bring something to the table you don’t see as often as you once did. If you haven’t seen Venom yet and are still interested in a review I have a spoiler-free version up on this site, you can find it here.
After a cinematic yet campy opening scene straight out of a comic book, the start of the film feels as though it drags on too long, going from one cliché to another. The way in which we are introduced to our protagonist, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is the first cliché, the apparent slacker who has an almost perfect life and has overslept. We also see that he is a maverick and an agitator which makes the fact that his boss would send him to an interview that cannot be messed up an alarming mistake, played out solely to move the plot forward. On the topic of moving the plot forward the motivation for him to look at his fiancé’s personal email comes out of left field, even for someone who is committed to exposing the truth. I really appreciate the nuance of the ironic twist showing the antagonist, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), talk about how people silence those with questions, as he silences Brock during the interview. The invasion of the Life Foundation is the first real time that the immersion of the film was broken to me. The fact that there was not a single security guard posted at a surveillance outpost, who would clearly be able to see them considering this building is on the cutting edge of technology. However this is a cool scene that they were able to put together with the personal connection to the test subject and the absolute perfect framing and cinematography as he tries to free her. I feel as though the post-infection chase scene that ensues is the best one in the film, that works in the new-found power aspect well. I also found the way it ends incredibly comical, not because he stated he feared heights but because no one thought to look up.
The scenes that follow are some of the best that the film has to offer. Tom Hardy does a great job acting like a man that is absolutely losing it. We are also presented with a good and bad “jump scare” but I use that term incredibly loosely. As he was looking into the bathroom mirror and went flying back was wonderfully comedic. Being a wreck the scene where he crashes the lunch date was another way of setting up key characteristics of the Venom symbiote. We see that the new boyfriend is a nice guy and it cleverly juxtaposes the calming office with the “body horror” once he’s in the MRI. The scene in which Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) is supposed to show how convincing Drake is, but comes off as an idiot considering it’s the man that threatened your family. This is also where we start to see some of the follies of the CGI, like the face he makes at the neighbor and a bad CGI fist in the otherwise interesting fight scene. The visualization of an inner dialogue in the car window was a little too on the nose and cliché. A chase scene should be cinematic and transition smoothly from one shot to the next but this one has a lot of sharp cuts that remind me of a Michael Bay film but in a bad way. That jump during the scene that we saw in the trailers was the lowest point of the film and should have been cut. The firefight scene that follows is expertly crafted and the use of a thermal camera was a nice and creative way to hide faulty CGI in a dynamic action scene. Returning to the hospital and separating him from Venom was a neat idea because it creates a sense of confusion and distrust in Brock and the audience. It also set’s up the climax of the film in a way that is interesting by revealing not only the fact Drake survived the encounter but that he is also a perfectly suitable match for Riot.
There is a moment in which he tries the cliché sucker punch, but when it fails, it is very satisfying given the other clichés they embraced throughout. Okay, correct me if I’m wrong, but She-Venom is strangely hot… she really steals the scene and is probably the best CGI we get to see. Again, the fight scene is cut so many times that the action, whilst easy to follow is all over the place. The chemistry between Venom and Brock is by far the best thing the film has to offer. There is a moment in the fight in which we are supposed to feel that Eddie Brock has finally beat his demons and Drake, but it is short-lived. Did Venom not say once Brock dies he’s as good as dead? He looked dead to me before Venom was able to get to him. That fire weakness shoehorned in during the 2-minute car ride sure came in handy huh? I know it felt as though the film went on longer than it should, but I really enjoyed what we got after the battle, that is one of my favorite Stan Lee cameos of all time and Venoms quip was perfect. It was also nice to see him go back to the store no longer helpless making for a fitting end. Post-credit scenes are common today, but my jaw hit the floor because I immediately recognized who that was. It was also cool how they hinted at this interview right after the final fight in a one-off line. Carnage is awesome, and I was surprised they chose Woody Harrelson to portray him, he is a phenomenal actor so I’m not worried.
Overall, it was nice to be able to go into a superhero movie not needing to know anything or watch the previous installment. I felt this film suffered most from bad CGI and not going for an R-rating. Despite the issues the enjoyment that you can get from the film far outclasses any of the issues. It is nice and refreshing to get a film like this and I hope the reception doesn’t stop other studios from trying something like this again. If I had to rate it on an arbitrary rating scale I’d give the entertainment value an 8/10 but a 6.8/10 overall, I definitely would recommend it to anyone, leave your thoughts below.