Fans of Spider-Man have been waiting with a mixture of excitement and trepidation for the origin story of the dark antihero Venom, and Sony has answered the call. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (30 Minutes or Less and Zombieland) and boasting a stellar cast – Michelle Williams, Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed – the film should have been excellent. While Hardys performance as both Eddie and the voice of Venom is engaging – not much else is.
Lets get down to it: The film follows the cheeky but affable investigative journalist Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to take down Dr Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the dark genius who founded a scientific research organisation called Life Foundation. Whispers of nefarious deeds and deaths in the lab leads Brock into sneaking into Drakes building, where he stumbles across an experiment that forces him to merge with a symbiote – an alien entity – that calls itself Venom.
Suddenly imbued with superhuman strength and power – and an insatiable hunger to go with it – Hardy dodges Drakes goons and faces off against a threat that could end life on earth, all the while struggling with his murderous alter-ego.
The back-and-forth between Venom and Eddie plays out like a bizarre courtship as Venoms baser urges (the inconvenient craving for human heads) clashes with Eddies blasé, black quips in – sometimes unintentionally -humorous moments.
While the pace is gunslinger fast, the story struggles under a weak and confused antagonist. We have Dr Drake, who see-saws between an ego-trip, genuinely wanting to save an overpopulated planet, and a deadly curiosity to know the world and everything that lies outside of it. So much could have been done with the character, but it falls flat. Where Riz should be sinister, he is perpetually dopey. He did not have Thanos hypnotic conviction, nor did he posses Lokis burning desire to be recognised. There was no rage like Hela or, once he merged with the symbiote Riot, not even Galactus hunger for life. He just, sort of floundered around looking concerned a lot.
Tom Hardys presence dominated, and it is testament to his acting that he keeps you transfixed on the screen even as the whole story falls apart under a lacklustre script. He and Michelle Williams bounce off each other nicely, and their chemistry keeps the scenes they share light and entertaining. Hardy shines in the fight scenes, which are directed seamlessly, and Venoms extendable goo-like limbs make for riveting sequences.
This, however, is where the problem lies with the rating: Despite all the fighting, there is hardly any blood. In a film such as this, which looks not at the perfectly put together, morally well adjusted superhero, but rather at the osmosis of violence and anger in a character more vicious than forgiving, it is remarkably clean.
Annoyingly clean. Unlike Deadpool, which features crimson blood splatters and jutted-out limbs in its fight sequences, Venom lacks the kind of flinching, blood-coated savagery people expect to see, even when the alien bites off someones head.
Venom pulls its punches and misses the gore mark expected from a film where there are no heroes. Still, it is entertaining.
If you dont compare it to its contemporaries.
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