An origin story that never recognises its identity.
Much like Deadpool, Venom’s initial appearance on the big screen was far from smooth. Both characters were poorly represented in X-men Origins: Wolverine and Spider-Man 3 respectively.
Ryan Reynolds got a chance to redeem Deadpool as the Marvel hero was awarded a standalone flick which boomed in the box office and a sequel released earlier this year.
Now Venom has his second chance, but the end result is far from perfect.
Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist whose reporting on an unethical science organisation lands him in hot water. He becomes possessed by a ‘parasite’, granting Hardy the ‘symbiote’ suit and subsequently transforming him into the anti-hero that is Venom.
Firstly, Hardy should be praised for his performance – the segments between Brock and Venom are definitely the most enjoyable. The writers had to force the backstory into the opening act. They had to set out why the film is set in San Fransico and not in New York like the comics, Brock’s love life with Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams) and why Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), leader of the science organisation, is the bad guy. It was a grind to get through these opening stages so when Brock and Venom finally combine, it was a relief.
It pains me to say that a lot of the great moments in the film were already showcased in the trailer, even some of the final scenes. Yes, I wish I was joking too.
I opened with a comparison between Venom and Deadpool, not only due to their poor representation in films previously, but because the pair are amongst only a handful of comic book movies that have been granted the luxury of a 15-rated viewing. This worked in Deadpool’s favour as it allowed the writers to give Reynolds the creative freedom he so dearly wanted for the character.
However, Venom is in an awkward situation as theatres across the pond have granted the film a ‘PG-13’ rating. You’ve got a film that wants to be serious and gore filled but every time Venom goes to eat someone’s head off there is not a single splash of blood in sight. The film is stuck in this awkward limbo between the action and the restrictive age rating. When the action scenes do roll around, the payoff is never worth it.
There are enjoyable moments in Venom. It’s only in the third, and final, act that the film finally settles as an action/adventure movie, having started off as more of a drama.
The films box office success, earning $205 million (£157m) globally in its opening weekend, makes me think we will see Tom Hardy in his symbiote suit again in the near future. I just hope that in the next film, the action won’t feel so watered down.
By David Ronney