“Venom” Review: A Lackluster Addition to the Superhero Genre


Morgan Pryor, Commentary editor

The opening sequence of “Venom” captures the rest of the film’s essence almost perfectly; a too-loud spaceship crash with inconsistent CGI quality. “Venom” seems to rely on its assault of action sequences to a fault and banks on lead Tom Hardy’s performance to salvage the film. Despite all his efforts, Hardy is barely able to carry the weak plot and cheesy dialogue on his shoulders, even with the occasional laugh from sheer absurdity.

Reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) is something of a nuisance to the powers that be; he uncovers evil truths and exposes them on his own investigative TV show. He becomes a particular nuisance to Dr. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) after he uncovers legal documents in fiancée Anne’s (Michelle Williams) computer, providing evidence of Drake’s unethical, dangerous practices in his Life Foundation. Brock, naturally, decides the best course of action bombard Drake with accusations during a televised interview, and Drake retaliates by destroying Eddie’s life, setting off a chain of events that leads to a desperate Eddie encountering and becoming a host for one of Drake’s captured alien symbiotes: Venom.

The plot itself is crammed and rushed, trying to introduce Venom as soon as possible. Although this is understandable the symbiote is the titular character, after all the film seriouslysuffers from a lack of substantial backstory on top of its lazy screenplay. Director Ruben Fleisher sets a spastic pace, jumping from one scene to the next like a game of hopscotch. This does nothing for engagement, and he neglects to utilize Hardy’s and Williams’ abilities to their full potential, both of them faltering under the lack of clever dialogue.


Graphic compiled by Morgan Pryor (character images belong to Marvel Entertainment)

The small source of light in this otherwise unsuccessful film comes from Hardy his performances as Brock and bloodthirsty symbiote hold the film together, albeit barely. Hardy tries his best with what little he’s got, taking on the roles of endearing journalist and violent parasite with equal fervor. The bits of dialogue exchanged between Brock and Venom are almost so ridiculous that it’s impossible not to laugh, but strangely enough, the most memorable moments come from their bizarre banter.

Odd is about as far as it gets when it comes to the symbiote. Venom’s grotesque and horrifying comic book roots are all but absent in its screen adaption, which suffers from its tame, PG-13 rating. His appearance, while not downright awful, leaves much to be desired in terms of nightmarish visual quality. If anything, Venom serves as a mood lightener, which seems to negate his very reputation as one of the most deadly villains (or anti-heroes) to grace the pages of comic books.

“Venom” is a rare, but unsurprising, failure in the long line of Marvel’s comic-to-screen adaptations. The film had everything going against it from the start, suffering from Spider-Man’s absence and uninspired screenwriting, both holding “Venom” back from its full potential. With an impending sequel from Sony, “Venom” served as a trial and error run for the franchise. Hopefully the next installment doesn’t possess its predecessor’s shaky start. Even though Hardy gave his best shot to create an engaging Venom, the conflicting comedic and dark tones worked against him. “Venom” deserves a C for its unclear direction, but Hardy himself deserves a much higher rating for his one-man show.