It has been over ten years since we last saw Venom making his first big-screen appearance in Sam Raimi’s critically-divisive Spider-Man 3. That was way back in 2007 and Sony has been trying to get a solo Venom movie off the ground ever since.
Fast-forward to 2018, the long-gestating solo Venom movie is finally here. Except that his character wasn’t played by Topher Grace and no longer part of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie universe. Instead, we got a more distinguished actor (sorry, Topher) in the form of Tom Hardy and Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer calling the shots. So, how does it fares after a decade of development?
First things first, don’t get your hopes up expecting Venom to be part of MCU. Well, at least not for now since Matt Tolmach — who is one of the Venom producers — confirmed the movie is meant to be standalone but didn’t completely rule out the possibility of bringing the anti-hero character to a wider direction (read: MCU). Which is a pity, anyway since a Venom movie without featuring or referencing Spider-Man looks like it sets to be DOA.
But thanks to the involvement of Tom Hardy as the title character, he manages to make it work. His dual performance as Eddie Brock and Venom is particularly a lifesaver here, alternating seamlessly from looking all confused and twitchy to completely unhinged. It’s the kind of performance that is difficult to pull it off convincingly. And yet, Hardy does it well without resulting into either unintentionally laughable, cartoonish or glaringly over-the-top.
As for the rest of the actors, both Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams deliver strong supports as the tyrannical antagonist Carlton Drake and Eddie Brock’s on-and-off love interest, Anne Weying.
However, the plot — written by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel — feels like a relic that belongs in the late 90s and early 2000s. The whole origin-story angle — including the introduction of the otherworldly symbiote, Carlton Drake’s greedy quest of exploiting the symbiote in the name of science and Eddie Brock’s subsequent transformation from an ill-fated reporter to the anti-hero title character — is mostly generic and bound to be forgettable.
The CGI is equally a letdown. It’s like as if they are made ten years ago. Not to mention Fleischer’s penchant of relying heavily on whip pans and quick editing, making the effects even worse to look at with all the blurry pixelated messes. His hyperactive camerawork also caused the action sequences, which largely takes place during the night, equally incomprehensible since everything moves so fast that you can’t really tell what’s going on. This is particularly evident during Venom‘s final fight against the antagonist, which instantly reminded me of the messy CG-heavy fight seen in Black Panther.
It’s kind of a pity, given how committed Hardy has brought to his Eddie Brock/Venom character. He definitely deserves better and I really hope the sequel in the future able to improve further (of course, provided if the first movie made a truckload of money in the box office). Remember to stick around since Venom will feature a mid-credit and post-credit scene. The mid-credit scene is particularly worth staying back for: let’s just it got something that’s going to make comic-book fans happy.