In the wider world of superhero movies, it’s safe to say that not much was expected of Venom. Coming after years of toiling in development hell, many thought it would never see the light of day.
This film wasn’t even on my radar this year, which is odd for a comic-book film and this was not helped by the films early trailers, which failed to entice my excitement, but with a day to myself and boredom setting in, I thought I’d bite the bullet and go see it, and decide for myself, whether it would be a decision I regretted remained to be seen.
After a lunar mission goes wrong, an alien symbiote is unleashed upon the world, meanwhile journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) loses everything in an ill-advised sting against the man behind the initial space mission, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), perusing the lead on Drake, Brock bonds with the symbiote Venom, who begins to wreck havoc.
After the calamity that was Venom’s first on-screen appearance over a decade ago in Spider-Man 3, the jury was well and truly out on his first solo outing, with half of the world hoping the character would be redeemed, and the other half hoping the character would crash and burn, somehow I get the feeling they’ll both be disappointed.
It’s not that Venom is bad, I didn’t think it was anyway, I certainly don’t think it warrants its 35 score on Metacritic, but you didn’t come to me to hear about other critics, but those of you expecting me to hate Venom will also leave this disappointed.
Venom sits in that incredibly hard to write about category, not nearly threatening to break into the ‘good’ category but not approaching the bottom of the barrel either, it is thoroughly middle of the road, and that perhaps, is its biggest crime.
It feels like the product of a studio that had next to no faith in it, it pushes no boundaries and doesn’t stand out in any way technically. In fact, some of its technical decisions, specifically visually, are more on the ‘bad’ end of the scale, everything is so murky, in that way that is very off-putting to look at, some of it looks like it has been dipped in pond-water, from a particularly grimy pond.
Acting-wise, it was solid enough. Tom Hardy brought the best he could, even if he wasn’t up to his usual standard, he was brought down somewhat by the script (more on that later) and I could say the same for Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams (who plays Eddie’s love interest, Anne) they are very competent actors, given less-than-stellar material.
So, that script then. While occasionally lively and interesting, the script is mostly bland and uninspired, the dialogue in particular is what brings it down, there is enjoyable interactions between Venom and Eddie, but beyond that it’s very paint-by-numbers, with a predictable plot and cliche villain that we have seen many, many times before and done better.
There are occasional glimpses within this film, of the film it wanted to be, perhaps the film it was going to be at some early planning stages, as when it edges towards off-the-wall body horror and creepiness, it come alive, but it is dragged back by the formulaic nature forced on it in other parts of the script.
In brief, flashes of what could have been stop this from being completely awful, along with an enjoyable enough lead performance. My expectations were low going in and it at least surpassed those, despite its deep flaws. I would advise caution when approaching the film if you’re expecting anything like the MCU, or even the Deadpool movies. It feels like something caught behind the rest of its peers, but is not nearly as bad as some outlets make it out to be, give it a watch, then never think about it again, because God knows I won’t think about it much again.