My review is going to make no difference to you even if you are on the fence about seeing VENOM. Either you see every comic book movie eventually or you don’t. It’s that simple. You have also probably already seen much of the critic analysis on this film saying that it is a giant mess but some have been giving it the minor benefit of the doubt only if you turn off your brain and admire Tom Hardy’s performance. So, being that I see a shit ton of movies, and I usually tend to go with most critics (although there is a time or two where I completely disagree with them), where do you think I end up on the movie review spectrum?
Venom is a mess. But it isn’t as bad as some critics are saying it is. It is a B-movie that should’ve been released in the mid-2000s (think Jessica Alba Fantastic Four or PG-13 Ben Affleck Daredevil) and might’ve been even considered great back in 1994 if it were released a couple of weeks before or after The Mask (I don’t know why that movie comes to mind, maybe the split personality and tonal similarities). It isn’t as bad as say the new Miles Teller Fantastic Four movie and it is certainly better than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And yes, it is a much better Venom than Topher fucking Grace gave us back in Spider-Man 3.
But why is Venom a mess? People are complaining that the first half of the film is too slow, and when Venom merges with Eddie Brock, it finally gets things going and doesn’t slow down until the end credits. I’m going to have to strongly disagree. I think the first half of the film is the better half, where the movie gives plenty of time to have Tom Hardy actually make Eddie Brock an interesting character. And it does. I wouldn’t consider it slow at all, especially when Tom Hardy’s performance is so great. He is the best Eddie Brock so far and after this film I couldn’t really seeing anyone else doing a superior job. Tom Hardy is the only reason this film isn’t a giant rushed turd that is rolling way too fast in the wind. He makes Eddie a delight to watch and even though the second half is rushed to the point of a headache, when the movie gets that millisecond to breathe, Tom Hardy brings a bright spot into the rushed mess.
While the film gives time to Tom Hardy to make Brock an actual character, it sacrifices everything else, including Michelle Williams in a completely wasted role, Riz Ahmed’s weird subdued bad guy performance, and not making Venom himself enough of a character. One point in the movie Venom just seems to change his mind about something within the drop of the hat, and the movie doesn’t give the character enough screen time by that point for that decision to really make an emotional impact toward me or any other movie going audience.
And the CGI, oh my God, some of it is really laughable. Every single action sequence in the entire second half of the film has really bad choppy editing and it tries to use really distracting CGI to cover it up. The most memorable action sequence is definitely Tom Hardy driving away from the bad guys on the motor cycle, but even at times you can tell it is the stunt double and they try to do shaky CGI on the other side of the screen to distract you. The final battle is a giant WTF am I watching mess of bad editing and CGI bukake where at points I couldn’t even tell what the fuck was going on.
But…I would like to see a sequel, especially if the filmmakers can take their time and make a much better film using the mid-credits scene with a surprising cameo by a pretty big A-B list actor. Especially if they really are going to go with THAT villain this time around. But bring Tom Hardy back, or your movie is completely going to suck. Here’s the thing? Would an R rating have made a difference in this? Probably not. You still would have the exact same script but with just more CGI blood and guts that probably look as bad some of the rest of the effects in the film. If they would’ve completely overhauled the script, started from scratch with more focus on making it super dark comic book horror, they might’ve had something. But Sony probably said no, try to make something enjoyable and that we can share with Disney if our studio is really going down the shitter.
At least Tom Hardy looked like he wanted to be there, and wanted to do something fun instead of trying to win some kind of award. And the movie is watchable, if you turn off your brain, just go with the flow, and admire the brilliance of Hardy. If you are looking for more in your Venom comic book film, you are going to walk out really, really disappointed. But hey, this movie made $80 million domestically and broke October records not just here in the U.S. but internationally too, so what do I know? So instead of saying this is bad, or it’s so bad it’s good, or this sucks, I’m just going to say, it’s okay, it’s meh, it’s eh, or just give you a simple shrug. To each his own, Eddie.