The run up to seeing Venom has followed what seems to be a bit of a growing trend for me recently – tickets go on sale for a movie that I’m very excited to see and despite the slightly average trailers, I grab a ticket and hope for the best. Then in the days beforehand, a load of negative reviews appear online and I really hope that they’re all wrong, like they all were with Hereditary. Recently we’ve had The Nun, then The Predator, and now Venom. I was really hoping this wasn’t going to be three in a row!
A space probe is returning to Earth. We hear the astronauts communicating with a team back home. They’re talking about some ‘specimens’ that they’re bringing back, and then something goes wrong onboard and the rocket crashes to Earth, landing somewhere in Malaysia. The probe belongs to bio-engineering company Life Foundation, and the specimens they’re carrying are symbiotic lifeforms. Life Foundation are all over the crash site, with only one of the astronauts surviving, barely. Meanwhile, CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is very excited by the symbiotes and returns them to the lab, becoming obsessed with assimilating them into animals. Obviously he has plans to eventually (as quickly as possible) try this out on humans. Apparently, it’s all for the good of the planet or some guff like that.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). He’s basically the most unconvincing journalist I’ve ever seen in a movie, but the montage of clips seems determined to tell us otherwise. He has his own TV show! It’s great! He’s helped to uncover injustice, righted wrongs, and is apparently a nice down to earth guy. When he secures an interview with Carlton Drake from Life Foundation, he’s ready to uncover some dirt, but his boss warns him not to overstep the mark. Of course, he doesn’t listen, stepping over the line and getting himself fired. He also manages to lose girlfriend Anne in the process.
The next chunk of the movie is just Tom Hardy moping around, and it’s not that great. I don’t know if it’s the script, the acting, or both. It’s interspersed occasionally with scenes involving Carlton Drake looking to expose the symbiotes to human subjects – the homeless, the poor or the just plain stupid – and you start wishing they’d just hurry up and bring Venom and Eddie together, in the hopes that things will pick up a bit. Luckily, once that does happen things do pick up considerably and Tom Hardy is so much better suited as the crazy man who’s feeling a little bit unwell than the sad, boring journalist. There’s a good level of humour from that point on too, along with some fairly decent action.
Unfortunately though, Venom suffers from some of the same dreadful editing that The Predator did. Scenes that seem to just prematurely end suddenly and successions of rapid cuts during some of the action, making it difficult to see just what the hell is going on. Overall it’s a bit rough around the edges, and definitely not as slick as your standard Marvel movie (this one is just ‘in association with Marvel’). That being said, this was in no way the car crash movie that many of the reviews had lead me to believe, and on the whole I actually really enjoyed it.
A decent mid credits scene sets up some exciting potential for a further movie, but I feel they really need to tighten things up a bit in order to make another one worth seeing.