As a lifelong (but mostly old school) Spider-Man fan, I’ve never understood the popularity of Venom, the “symbiote” anti-hero who started out as a replacement costume for Spidey during Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars” storyline, way back in the mid-eighties.
When the Spidey “suit” became the Venom character in 1988, it was drawn in awesomely cool fashion by Todd McFarlane, but I never thought it had much going for it beyond that weird kind of Killer whale vibe. Fans ate it up though and soon thereafter, symbiotes started to appear everywhere.
Here we are now, thirty years later, after one Spider-Man film appearance that nearly destroyed the franchise (Spider-Man 3 – 2007), the alien anti-hero is back on the big screen to mash your brain and eat it – but not in a good way.
If you thought Spider-Man 3 was bad, in comparison to the new Venom film it was the Citizen Kane of symbiote cinema. In fact, the only truly good thing I can say about Venom is that is has an awesome sneak-peek at the upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film. The bad news is you have to sit through all of Venom and the film credits in order to see it… and that’s a long, long wait.
The story allegedly (and thankfully) takes place outside of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, where villain Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is the wealthy Tony Stark like character, if Tony was intent on destroying the world.
Instead of inadvertently coming to Earth via Spidey’s costume, Venom arrives via rocket-ship, as a scientific alien sample collected by Drake, which crash lands in Malaysia. Why Malaysia? No reason, other than to give one of the parasite samples some screen time to kill as it works its way to America.
Tom Hardy, he of bumbling Bane verbiage (see The Dark Knight Rises – 2012), plays Eddie Brock as an investigative reporter who uncovers Drake’s evil alien-parasite plans, and who inadvertently becomes one with Venom.
Venom is poorly written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, and it is poorly executed by director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland – 2009); but the worst thing about it is its star. Hardy annoyingly walks like he has something stuck up his butt – and then later actually confirms that he does – twice. It’s true.
Despite the weird body language, the worst part of Hardy’s performance is the ridiculous American accent he tries to use, which is mostly indecipherable and missing every fourth or fifth word. He is over-the-top neurotic and simply aggravating – as is Venom – and when the two are on screen together there is no one to sympathize with at all except yourself. The most appealing character in this movie is a cute dog that gets way too little screen time.
There’s a motorcycle chase, there’s a symbiote battle, there are one or two surprises to appease the nerdy fans, there is a joke or two; but the real joke is on the audience as there is nothing going on here worth recommending this movie. Grade: 3/10
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