All bark and no bite
Venom should be such a bad-ass character, the kind where it should be harder to fail than succeed when making a film around him. The telling sign of what to expect from this film, however, is given even before we hear a word spoken or see a person on screen.
The word ‘SONY’ splashing across the screen is all you need to know about this film. In their endless quest to craft a franchise so that they have an easy, bankable set of films to churn out, they’re needlessly trashing your favourite things. They’re like a petulant sibling who wants to play with your Lego but snaps them because they can’t figure out how it actually works.
Initially, the names attached to this film were cause for optimism. Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake are key roles, while Jenny Slate and Michelle Williams provided hope of strong female characters. The trailers which emerged left quite a lot to be desired though, and the film itself shows exactly why those trailers were so poor.
Eddie Brock is cut out of the Spiderman universe of New York and plonked down on the opposite coast in San Francisco, peddling his investigative journalism, which we’re meant to believe he’s good at. But the second he starts to investigate Drake – a sort of evil Elon Musk type – he seems to throw any sense he has out of the window, giving you the first bit plot hole.
‘It takes far too long for Venom himself to fully emerge, making this more of a Tom Hardy film.’
Once embroiled with Drake and the “symbiotes” he’s had brought back from space, Brock ends up with Venom. The moments in which Tom Hardy has conversations with himself, unable to control the parasite he senses within, are some of the best (see the fish tank scene), but it takes far too long for Venom himself to fully emerge, making this more of a Tom Hardy film than a Venom one. Imagine if in Spiderman you didn’t see that famous costume or web slinging in any form for almost an hour? You’d be pretty annoyed.
That leads us nicely on to asking why Sony thought they could somehow separate an integral Spiderman character from that universe. We get no mention of Spidey – someone Venom needs to even shape into existence – and this film appears only to be a setup for Venom’s other, main symbiote nemesis. It’s a bonkers way to try and get a franchise off the ground and wastes a very cool character. They could have at least embraced the realisation that mature audiences want adult comic-based films like Deadpool and Wolverine. Instead, in this film we have a giant monster who bites off heads but we see no blood and no gore.
Inexplicably, Venom’s decision not to help conquer Earth only gets dealt with in the final 15 minutes of the film, and the motive for his change is a baffling cop which makes you think they never really had a plan when writing this. Add to this that all the other characters in the film are just one-dimensional points to pinball from, and you get a very pointless film. Riz Ahmed has proven to be a talent in other films, but here he lacks any kind of menace to really be a villain, and Michelle Williams looks like her spirit left her body during the filming of her scenes.
Little wonder then that Tom Hardy has claimed his favourite parts were cut, and Michelle Williams claims she’s taking on this film to help fund other smaller films. Like rats leaving a sinking ship. While the director and the production company have to take a lot of the blame, the cast should have seen this coming a mile away when they were handed a script.
You can stay for the after credits scene, but I’d be surprised if the setup there ever gets a pay off. No, scratch that, I pray that it doesn’t get the pay off, because it could end up being equally as bad, if not worse, if they don’t spice it up to the level it requires. This film is yet another example of trying to cater for too wide an audience with no real vision or passion for what the intellectual property actually involves.