Attempting to kick start a cinematic universe of their own, Sony Pictures arrives rather late to the party with Venom. It's debatable wether creating a spin-off Spider-Man universe without Spider-Man is a good idea, but Marvel have confirmed more than once that any character in any world can work as long as it's done right. Nonetheless Venom who unlike, say, Guardians of the Galaxy is an existing fan favourite character and after Eddie Brock becomes infected with an otherworldly parasite he must submit to his cuckoo-ing alter-ego to save his life.
Venom, like the psychotic symbiote itself, is a dark, sticky mess. Sony's flawed Jeckle and Hyde style romp lacks an engaging hero at its centre with Tom Hardy delivering a laughably feeble and highly irritating performance. Eddie Brock staggers across the screen, mumbling aggravating pieces of dialogue and failing to hold himself together. Hardy is awfully miscast and brings nothing to the human side of Eddie, although that being said his head chomping alter-ego Venom really is a barrel of laughs.
Hardy introduces Venom (the character) with bizarre brilliance, and the bickering dynamic between the two never gets old - but ultimately this strange and dominating symbiote is incomplete without a worthy alter-ego. Carrying two performances at different extremes Venom is completely bombastic and over-the-top - Eddie is dull, idiotic and extremely unlikeable - Hardy creates too great a contrast between the two characters that his human protagonist pays the price, swallowed up by a oozing abyss of dominating black slime.
There is Deadpool level potential here but Venom feels painfully restrained, lacking any sense of strong and enthusiastic direction. Zombieland's Ruben Fleischer squanders his chance to use excessively silly violence to the Deadpool limit, therefore Venom feels deprived of some of those banglingly gloriously gory moments. Everything is implied, but not in the subtle way that provokes a sense of dread, but more in a "we need this to be more PG" kind of way - ironic since the film still wound up with an unjustified 15 certificate. Sadly Venom appears to be another desperate and mis-guided grab at the big time by Sony, yet again falling way short of the mark.
Storytelling is another key issue for Venom, this lacking anti-hero flick feels strangely dated - created with a flimsy though standard three act structure. Superhero films have evolved so much over the past ten years with bigger budgets and much bigger ideas, yet Venom appears so behind the times. What's more, it's as if the CGI has been ripped straight from the 2000's - during a high speed motor bike chase the background blurs like a 50's classic, and in the final showdown the screen becomes engulfed by one great big, black blobby mess.
By contrast, such is the gulf that Venom almost makes Rami's Spider-Man 3 look like The Dark Knight. From its wooden and stilted dialogue to its dismal and messy visuals, Sony have really shot themselves in the foot if they seriously want to make a separate Spidey type universe of their own. Be that as it may, Hardy is must surely be responsible for his shocking performance with the same said for Riz Ahmed's fantastically one note villain Carlton Drake
Where's that dancing emo Peter Parker, he's a damn sight better than all of this...
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.