By Edward Baillargeon
For the past 15 years, Sony’s most valuable franchise under their belt was Spider-Man. While they have had their ups and downs in terms of the reception and have been constantly rebooting. Although, one of the most intriguing fan favorite characters in the Spider-Man universe is the villain/anti-hero Venom. However, this was not the first time that Venom has appeared on the big screen. The first time was back with 2007’s Spider-Man 3, although he was shoved at the last minute by producer Avi Arad even though director Sam Raimi didn’t really want Venom in an already crowded, but still entertaining, third film in the trilogy. Also a Venom movie has been in development hell for an extremely long time. At first it was going to be a spin-off of the Sam Raimi trilogy with Topher Grace reprising his role as Eddie Brock/Venom, but that got scrapped. Then, when they rebooted Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 starring Andrew Garfield, they tried to develop a cinematic universe to compete with Marvel Studios, but then that got scrapped again after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed. But then in February 2015, Sony announced a deal with Marvel Studios to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fulfilling many fans’ dreams of seeing Spidey on the same screen as The Avengers. But with that deal, while Marvel has Spider-Man on a loan, Sony could still develop their own universe of movies with other Spider-Man characters, but will not feature or make mentions of Spidey. And so finally we come to today where Sony and Ruben Fleischer, the director of Zombieland, have finally released the first movie in the “Sony Universe of Marvel Characters” with Venom.
Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien symbiote Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.
Despite all of the negative buzz from a large amount of critics, Venom is a surprisingly enjoyable movie and not as Venom himself said it best, “like a turd in the wind”. While the movie is entertaining for what it is, the biggest issue of the film is that it doesn’t really add anything new or fresh to the superhero genre, and it is not trying to be. You won’t leave this movie with the same impact as Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, or Deadpool 2, but that’s okay. The story is still competent and isn’t really bogged down by setting up a franchise or throwing a bunch of fan service at the wall. The action is typical stuff you would see in a movie like this but can also have a bit too much shaky-cam. The biggest highlight of Venom though is Tom Hardy’s performance as both Eddie Brock and as Venom himself. Now it is no surpise that Hardy has proven himself to be a great actor with roles in Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road, and this film is no exception. There is some great chemistry and dark humor in Eddie and Venom’s relationship in the movie almost like a werewolf or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Where Eddie is just an investigative journalist who gets fired from his job when he tries to get information out that he was not allowed to talk about, but Venom is the exact opposite of Eddie were he is violent and always hungry for blood and organs, but that aspect can be both off-screen and shown but in dim lighting where you can’t quite see it because of its admittedly hard PG-13 rating. The other supporting actors also are good with the roles they are given like Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Jenny Slate. Also, this movie was surprisingly funnier than I expected with jokes that can be both intentionally funny, making me laugh as much as something like the Deadpool movies, but there also some parts that were unintentionally funny along the lines of “so-bad-it’s-good” superhero movies like Batman and Robin or Catwoman.
Overall, Venom is an enjoyable but flawed anti-hero movie with a story that well-executed, if nothing special, decent action, and a great dual performance from Tom Hardy. If you are a Spider-Man or Venom fan, or you just want some dumb fun in a sick-and-twisted way, then this is worth a watch. Also there are two post-credits scenes, one is a scene setting up another fan-favorite character for a possible sequel, and the other, for some weird reason, is an entire scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming out this December, which looks really cool, but I don’t know why was it at the end of this movie. I’m going to give Venom a 7/10.