Despite Marvel Studios success with Spider-Man in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony Pictures is hell-bent on creating a live action Spider-Man Universe without Spider-Man. It’s like a Bond movie without James Bond.
The first film born out of this idea is Venom, starring Tom Hardy. Now…Venom is a Spider-Man villain so telling this story without Spider-Man is a difficult task. Venom is Venom because it attached to Spider-Man and then Eddie Brock. The good people over at Sony avoid all the characters DNA by making the film about “Venom” but not the Venom fans know from the comics.
The plot revolves around Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative reporter that recently fell on hard times after his interview with Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) went very bad. A bunch of emo stuff happens in Eddie’s life that leads him back to the Life Foundation to document the terrible human trials they’ve been running. One thing leads to another and this ooze like creature attaches itself to Eddie without his knowledge.
After a few sweaty scenes and some inner dialogue, we learn the creatures name is Venom and wants to bond with Eddie so it can stay alive. Meanwhile another symbiotic creature is traveling to the Life Foundation as well. A bunch of bad science is delivered via exposition to explain Venom wants to stay on earth because he was a “loser” back home and him and Eddie must team up to stop Carlton Drake from launching another Elon Musk style ship into space.
To be fair, Venom isn’t a complete mess. Tom Hardy does a great job as Eddie Brock and all the internal dialogue works very well – it’s the best part about the movie. There’s a lot of this movie that belongs in the trash, but hopefully Sony or whoever does Venom next keeps the dialogue the same.
Venom suffers from not knowing what it wants to be. The tone is all over the place. One minute it’s an an action story and the next there’s a gigantic CGI alien eating people’s heads. The story sets up all this fake science about the symbiotes and how they take time to bond with a host. ALL of it goes out of the window in the second act – people are putting on symbiotes like rain coats with zero repercussions. It’s unbelievable.
If you turn off your brain, there are some fun moments but none of them are memorable. Venom is such a cool character and there was an opportunity to do something smart and interesting. Instead, the climactic fight is two big CGI characters fighting. It’s a sloppy looking fight scene, you can’t tell who is hitting who or what’s happening.
Even with Sony cramming a Spider-Man less Venom down our throats and a PG-13 rating, there was an opportunity for something cool and the film fails to deliver anything interesting. Venom is an early 2000’s comic book movie released in 2018. It feels like a film made by people who’ve never read a comic book. Tom Hardy and Venom fans deserve better. Hopefully the 2nd post credit scene provides some hope for this cinematic universe.