Even Tom Hardy Can't Save 'Venom' From Itself
Count this one among Marvel's worst.
At least we got a cool Eminem song out of this one. Venom was always going to be an uphill climb for filmmakers and it turns out the ascension was just too steep for director Ruben Fleischer and Sony Pictures to handle. As a comic book character, Venom leaps off the page. He's beautifully designed, but that design doesn't lend itself very well to the big screen (not yet, anyways). Even Tom Hardy, who's worth seeing in just about everything, can't save this blood blister of a movie from itself.
Part of the reason Hardy should've skipped this one should've been apparent from the start. Venom is a full body costume character and thus Hardy is covered in black glue for a lot of the movie. His face is pretty much wasted although Hardy does his level best to invigorate the title character with strange idiosyncrasies. Another big reason Venom will go down as a hated Marvel movie is the silly script itself, which bounces from subplot to subplot with zero narrative structure and a modus operandi to cut to the chase. In the end, it's just one big explosion.
Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a San Francisco reporter who investigates corruption, cold cases, and also interviews rich guys. He loses his gig when he tries to spin a puff piece about billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) into an exposé. He also steals his inside information from his lawyer fiancée, Anne (Michelle Williams), who promptly dumps him.
Six months later, we learn how Eddie will eventually turn into Venom. Drake experiments on alien symbiotes (globs of mucas) after his company's science-lab spaceship crashes. The billionaire with no common sense (a well-worn comic trope) wants to pair these symbiotes with humans so we can all live in outer space. Great idea! That is, until all the homeless people they use for the clinical trials wind up in coffins. If only Drake would listen to the reasonable Dr. Skith (Jenny Slate), who blows the whistle by contacting Eddie about the experiments.
Soon after, Eddie is forced to deal with an alien symbiote inside him. Venom adheres itself to the reporter and Eddie spends the rest of the movie trying to GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF! Well, most of the movie anyways. Sometimes, he likes having Venom around. He does gain immense power after all.
Comic book fans won't be surprised when Eddie starts speaking to "himself" while communicating with the alien. This always worked well on the page and provided a glimpse into Eddie's humanity. Venom was a full-fledged Spider-Man villain when he first debuted and he's since become an anti-hero in other storylines. The movie version of Venom is closer to the latter. So, while Eddie struggles to regain his old life, he converses with the alien, which doesn't play well on the big screen. Venom's voice (also Hardy) rivals Christian Bale's Batman for the sheer silliness award.
Introducing Venom without Spider-Man comes with its own set of problems. Originally, the alien attached itself to Peter Parker (Spidey's black suit) who rejected it. Then it then found Eddie Brock, who had his own Spider-Man grudge and he used his newfound power to terrorize the Wall-Crawler. That might've been a cool movie to introduce Venom, but instead we're handed this standalone, clichéd story that's kinda sorta based on Venom: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes. Neither of those comic storylines were anywhere near as popular as anything Spider-Man was a part of.
If none of the above puts you off of Venom consider that most of the film is digitally created, and not well. Compare the car chases to similar fare, like Black Panther, and the holes really start to show. There are no WOW! moments that make you sit up and get lost in the spectacle. If anything, it'll just make you laugh... unintentionally. Venom is full of action, but nothing we haven't seen before.