HOLLYWOOD—Not sure what every other critic was thinking when they saw the standalone flick “Venom,” but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It had everything I wanted when it comes to a flick coming from the comic book universe and that is to be: ENTERTAINED. Now, is that to say that “Venom” is perfect? No, so as a critic you kind of know what you are getting as you already enter the theater.
For those not in the know, Venom is one of the villains that our favorite web-slinger, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man battled in the comics and movies. Let me be crystal clear, Spider-Man DOES NOT appear in this movie! This is all about the character Eddie Brock and the alien force that attaches itself to his body. Taking on the character of Eddie Brock is actor Tom Hardy. Hardy reminds me a lot of actors Christian Bale and Johnny Depp; they immerse themselves in the characters that they portray and because of that you connect with the character more than on average.
We don’t immediately jump into the action; it’s a slow burn, but not too slow. The audience gets a well-written, fleshed out story about Eddie Brock, at his absolute high and when he hits rock bottom for pushing the boundaries a bit far when he is warned not to do so. I loved that the writers did this. From my time reading comic books and following the Spider-Man universe, Brock’s character was always pompous, arrogant and a troublemaker, and we get all of that here and then some.
I will admit I felt Michelle Williams was miscast as Annie, Brock’s love interest and pseudo ally. Williams is a multiple time Oscar-nominee and I felt the writing and dialogue for her character came across flat and didn’t utilize her talents to the fullest. Taking on the role of villain is Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake, a scientist driven to madness as he attempts to understand a symbiotic life forced that was brought back to planet Earth. He is fun as a villain, but the character never digs deep to the core where as a spectator you fear for the protagonists or those that he cares about.
Hardy without a doubt carries this film from start to finish. His ability to tap into what at times seems like two separate individuals inside his human body is impressive. It doesn’t hurt that the script gives him witty one-liners that help deliver perfect comedic timing to lighten the mood. One can make the argument that “Venom” is categorized as being a dark comic book flick, but in actuality that is not the case whatsoever. It teeters on that edge, but never fully goes there like “The Dark Knight.”
I’ll make the argument that the writer’s decision to make Venom into some sort of anti-hero hurts the flick slightly, but not by much. Why? Hardy’s version of Eddie Brock is so likable you care about the Venom character that much more even though this is an alien force hell-bent on destroying the human race. The visual effects in this movie are spectacular. I cannot say they are the best I’ve seen of all-time, but it helps to solidify itself as an action-adventure that delivers what the audience has come to expect: fun fight sequences, stellar imagery and action galore.
“Venom” was a ride that I was glad I took and tossed the buzz I heard from others complaining it was a jumbled mess. It is only a jumbled mess for those who went into the theater expecting the movie to be something it never advertised itself to be. It is a comic book flick about a character whose world is unraveled by an alien force that takes over his body and throughout that crisis the character discovers what is important in life, while entertaining the audience along the way.