Reviews for Venom have been quite poor, to say the least. Is it that bad? Well… yes, and no. As a film, Venom is a mess – unevenly paced, illogically plotted and tonally all over the place. However, I confess I found it quite entertaining nonetheless.
A spin-off from the Spider-man Universe, Venom concerns San Francisco reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who loses his job, flat, and fiancée after investigating rich and influential scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Drake’s rockets have brought dangerous alien symbiotes to Earth. Convinced these symbiotes provide the keys to mankind’s survival in the face of ecological disaster, Drake undertakes unethical experiments with said symbiotes, resulting in ill-advised human trials. Through a series of unnecessarily convoluted plot contrivances, Brock ends up exposed to one of the symbiotes, resulting in a sort-of wisecracking extra-terrestrial possession that gives him immense powers, transforming him into alter-ego Venom.
By the time the film gets to this point (and really that takes far too long), things get more enjoyable, and there are a number of funny and exciting set pieces. The script doesn’t make a lick of sense, but Tom Hardy gives it his all, as does Michelle Williams playing his ex-girlfriend. Riz Ahmed does his best too, but as a villain he isn’t particularly memorable. Some of the visual effects look rather dodgy too.
Still, in the end, Venom isn’t as bad as critics have claimed. I certainly don’t defend it as a good, coherent piece of filmmaking. Amongst other things, it is shot through with plot holes. That said, director Ruben Fleischer makes it something of a guilty pleasure, and as such I can’t bring myself to dislike it.
As a footnote, although rated PG-13 in the US, the film was considered violent and horrific enough to get a 15 certificate in the UK. Personally I think that’s an overreaction, so if you have superhero movie obsessed children above, say, the age of about 9 or 10, I recommend sneaking them in regardless.
Simon Dillon, October 2018.