STARRING: TOM HARDY; MICHELLE WILLIAMS; RIZ AHMED
DIRECTED BY: RUBEN FLEISCHER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
If anything can be said about Venom, the recent anti-superhero movie, is that it is the weirdest comic book movie yet. It's not good, it starts boring, yet sometimes it's so stupid that it's a lot of fun, and then it becomes completely ridiculous. That's what makes it so hard to review, because it has massive problems in the plot, an ending that is incredibly messy, and a performance from Tom Hardy that is a step outside what he's typically done, so at least I wasn't bored. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) seems to be making three movies at once and I think there could have been something good inside. Instead, Venom will become a guilty pleasure for some, but for many this is just cinematic poison.
Out the gate, Venom starts on the wrong foot. It's boring in the first thirty minutes, introducing us to investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy), always in pursuit to get the truth, end corruption, and take down criminals. He lives a happy life with fiance Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), but when he pushes too far in an interview with megalomaniac and science billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), his life crumbles around him, losing his job, and his girl. But Eddie is not going to let this go and with the help of Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), he snoops in the wrong places, leading to an alien-like virus known as a “Symbiote” that attaches to Eddie creating the massive, gooey, glob of a dangerous alter ego known as Venom.
To some, Venom might be more than enough action to pass the time, but after the symbiote attaches on, things quickly go off the rails. The screenplay by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Kelly Marcel, and Will Beall is a wacky concoction of the comic book movies in the past. Think Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, or Daredevil level dialogue. The Venom/Eddie Brock relationship turns into a hilarious buddy cop film, with the two bickering back and forth at one another. I couldn't help but wonder if director Ruben Fleischer was a big fan of the film All of Me, the comedy where Lilly Tomlin takes over the body of Steve Martin, because that is the closest movie that compares to Venom. The amount of laughter that erupted from my screening might be evidence that this was actually a comedy after all?
Another massive problem for Venom is how it does not stick to it's tag line of “The World Has Enough Superheroes”. In the Marvel comics, Venom is the lethal villain to Spider-Man (who does not even exist in this films universe...yet?), but Fleischer can't seem to help but tell a run of the mill origin story, making Venom the heroic good guy in the end. It leads to the inevitable climax, with Venom forced to fight Carlton Drake in a massive battle of mixing symbiote's crashing into one another, like two paint's in a paint mixer. And if you think I am saying “symbiote” in this review too much, wait till you hear the movie. Riz Ahmed's character loves to say “Symbiosis!”
Is Venom as awful as other critics have been saying? Yes, but not without plenty of highlights to keep me intrigued. I walked out of Venom thinking, okay it was a mess, but I have to commend Tom Hardy for truly going all out on his performance. His work reminded me of Charlie Chaplin or Dudley Moore, as these dual characters, losing control of ones limbs, and battling with one another. That however, works better in a different movie. Venom is all over the place and any hopes of this movie making a lot of noise, I'd say the bark is as weak as it's bite.
Written by: Leo Brady