So finally, I’ve caught up with Venom, thanks to Netflix. As much as I wanted to like this movie, I really felt that Sony bungled up this attempt to expand the Spider-man franchise by focusing on his arch enemy.
Synopsis: Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative reporter who loses his job after trying to expose billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) for his unethical space voyages that have resulted in the deaths of countless astronauts. Even more dangerous is Drake’s obsession with acquiring alien symbiotes and his attempt to merge them with human hosts. As Eddie investigates further into Drake’s shady dealings, he becomes the host of the symbiote Venom, and they work together to stop Drake from bringing in millions of symbiotes to earth and ending humankind.
I don’t know exactly how to feel about this movie actually. It looked right and it sounded right but somehow, something didn’t feel right. The franchise decidedly modified some elements of Venom’s story but stuck to the key points to keep the fans happy. However, the bottomline here is that Venom is a Spiderman villain. The whole point of his (and Brock’s) existence in the Spiderman universe is their common hatred for the webslinger. This was the main reason they bonded so well. So it feels weird that the movie deliberately eliminated Spiderman from the picture to create a backstory for Venom without his prime motivation. Perhaps, it was because of the Sony and MCU deal that the storytelling for Venom (who was not part of the deal) was limited.
I felt that this was the film’s main issue. Sure, they introduced Carlton Drake (who later played host to Riot) as a powerful and evil bane to humanity but Riz Ahmed did not look or feel menacing enough. He talked the talk but it never rang true because he lacked the conviction to portray a truly evil character. His actions did not seem genuine because he looked too innocent.
The first thirty minutes of the movie was devoted to establishing the character of Eddie Brock as a standup guy, if not for anything else. Thirty minutes of an hour and thirty minutes before we actually see him merge with his symbiote. True, there were fast paced action and great CGI in this film, plus a great motorcycle chase scene too. Still, it felt superficial, somehow. Its like director Ruben Fleishner simply wanted to load up on the action to justify that it was a superhero movie after all.
Tom Hardy did well as Eddie Brock, although his wisecracking dialogue didn’t suit his image very well. His constant bickering with Venom was intended to be funny in true Spiderman spirit but somehow, it felt forced. Tom had horrible chemistry with Michelle Williams. Seriously. Individually they are both great actors but together, they had zero spark at all. Also, I was constantly bothered by how Michelle look like Nicole Kidman (post Botox).
All in all, Venom wasn’t a bad movie but it was missing something crucial to make audiences root for him as a hero. There may have been limitations on the scope of the storytelling because of the MCU deal and this was why Venom felt hollow. The symbiote may have found his host but he hardly came to life. He lost his cred as a villain because of this movie. The real potential though, was the introduction of Carnage (Woody Harrelson) in the aftercredits.