Venom is a bold project for Sony, they’re attempting to launch a Spider-Man universe, without Spider-Man. They want this universe to stand alone, but they don’t want to rule out the chance of a future crossover.
Whilst it’s never stated this is in the MCU (Marvel cinematic universe) they don’t say anything to contradict that it isn’t. Instead of New York, the action takes place in San Francisco.
Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist. Eddie lives with his fiancé Anne (Michelle Williams), a successful lawyer, working for a firm that represents the controversial billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed).
One night, Eddie makes a bad decision and ends up losing his job, his relationship and his apartment.
Cut to six months later. Eddie has given up on himself — but when Dr Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), a scientist who works for Drake, tells Eddie that Drake is sacrificing homeless people in mad experiments, Eddie decides to leap back into action to expose him. Whilst exploring the lab, Eddie gets bonded with an alien, that calls itself Venom.
All of a sudden we’re in a slapstick/buddy comedy. Invoking the obligatory talking alien mechanical baritone, Venom at first barks out primal commands such as “HUNGRY!” and “FOOD!”, but soon he’s commenting on Eddie’s romantic life and opening up about how he was considered a “loser” on his home planet.
The movie is a strange beast, it never truly settles on an identity. It’s unevenly dumb, part superhero movie, part horror/comedy and it doesn’t really do either well. It is funny? Yes, at times. I’ll admit I laughed. But, not always at the times the film wanted me to.
According to Hardy his favourite bits of the film, are the 40 minutes that ended up on the cutting room floor. He’s also said in interviews, that he mostly improvised his scenes. This could explain some of the choppy editing, or inconsistencies in the characters’ motivations.
The film wants us to want Eddie and Anne back together, but they’ve put her in a relationship with Dr Dan, probably the nicest/most understanding man in the universe. Venom feels like it fell through a time vortex, this is like a pre-MCU superhero movie. Something akin to 2003’s Daredevil.
The special effects are underwhelming. The CGI is terrible and the fight scenes are predictable and murky at best. The villains — human and extraterrestrial — are forgettable. And neither the ordinary guy nor his alter ego is particularly compelling to watch.
This film cements Tom Hardy, as the British Nicholas Cage.
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