From the smoldering dregs that was the destable “Spider-Man 3” comes Sony’s surprisingly decent film in the “Spider-Man” universe, “Venom,” an anti-hero themed film that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Despite this, the film is tons of fun and provides and entertaining two hours, especially for those that enjoy monstrous alien fights.
Going into the film, there wasn’t much hope that “Venom” would turn out to be more than a film moviegoers will look back fondly on before immediately forgetting about it. Unfortunately, “Venom” doesn’t escape this realm of soon-to-be obscurity, but it does have some staying power due to how utterly strange the film is. Rather than constructing “Venom” around the narrative of Spider-Man’s most iconic villain, the film asserts a refreshing psychological-horror plot that will keep viewers interested at least midway through the film.
In a completely separate universe from 2007’s questionable “Spider-Man 3” and 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Venom” exists in Sony’s working set of films in their own Spider-Verse. “Venom” follows the incredibly buff reporter Eddie Brock on the case of a lifetime, but when he digs too deep into a powerful organizations dastardly plans, Eddie loses everything.
After a mission of space exploration ends in a crash-landing, otherworldly beings called symbiotes are brought to Earth by the crazed Carlton Drake, CEO of the Life Foundation. While his purpose in doing so may seem just, Drake soon reveals himself as a spiraling scientist obsessed with the evolution of mankind.
Through a series of admittedly terrifying scenes of torture through forced bonding, the symbiote Venom soon finds his next host in Eddie Brock. Both human and symbiote drive each other to heights unknown to one another until a monumental threat forces the two to cooperate for the fate of the planet.
As one can probably tell after stumbling through the film’s busy synopsis, the plot of “Venom” seems to be hanging by short thread, held together only by Tom Hardy’s stellar performance. Though the film’s storyline tells the tale of an evolving set of characters jammed into two hours, its plot is almost non-existent.
In “Venom”’s attempt to break away from the beaten path that Marvel and DC have developed for superhero movies, the film actually constructs a narrative that goes absolutely nowhere. The film’s main villain, Riot, appears out of thin air, and Eddie’s and Venom’s budding bromance develops much too quickly to be believable. There’s no grand adventure or actual goal in sight for our antihero, leaving no room for interpretation or examination on any issues. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Venom”’s strengths lie in its ability to become so mindlessly entertaining while providing an interesting horror plot in its beginning stages. Several scenes of human experimentation and breaking, contorting body parts will leave viewers squeamish and may even provoke many to look away. The scenes of Eddie’s first few encounters with the parasyte Venom are truly terrifying and nightmare-inducing, and even seeing the way that Venom fights when he’s taken over Eddie’s body mirrors various stellar horror movie tropes. Audiences will wince and cringe at the way Venom hunts his enemies before viciously tearing off their heads.
Eddie’s psychotic episodes only add to the in-depth horror of the film. Truly hitting rock bottom, Eddie begins hearing voices and tearing into raw meat while snarling at passersby and vomiting whatever he consumes. Venom’s effects on Eddie are truly detrimental and may even be a bit scarring to any younger viewers.
Though, as a pseudo-superhero flick, there had to be some sort of action in the film, which was not completely disgusting. Considering the full Venom “costume” was completely done in CGI, the many battle scenes with the monstrous alien taking on military forces were decent enough to seem believable. However, Venom’s battle with the symbiote Riot will forever be something of a mess of cinema-magic.
Akin to the clustered battles in the “Transformers” franchise, Venom vs. Riot is a mess of gooey, incomprehensible CGI. Considering their powers are never truly made clear throughout the course of the film, it’s easy to get lost in the morphing limbs. Essentially, closing your eyes during these seems would give the same effect of watching it, which speaks volumes of the movie’s script.
Part comedy, part horror, part action-thriller, “Venom” clearly doesn’t know what it wants to be. Though considering the film’s lackluster, predictable ending, “Venom’s” director is clearly on board for a sequel, which is more than certain considering the amount of movies Sony already has planned for its Spider-Verse. While “Venom” will most likely be a box office success, it may leave a similar infamous mark much like its “Spider-Man 3” predecessor.