Possible spoilers ahead!!
“Venom” tells the story of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative reporter who’s finally found success in San Francisco as the host of his own network news show. Brock’s personal life is also doing well as he lives happily with his fiancé Anne Weying (Michelle Williams).
However, after Eddie betrays Anne’s trust and ignores explicit instructions from his boss in order to go after the leader of the Life Foundation, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), Eddie is fired from his show. Within hours Eddie Brock is essentially blacklisted from working in journalism, and Anne breaks up with him.
Months later, Eddie is still down on his luck, until he’s approached by Life Foundation scientist Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate). She explains that Carlton Drake had been experimenting with alien creatures called symbiotes. These symbiotes must bond with an Earthen host in order to survive on the planet, and Drake means to fuse symbiotes with humans as a way to survive in space. But more often than not, the symbiotes end up killing the human hosts.
Hoping to stop the symbiote experiments by making them public, Dr. Skirth sneaks Eddie into the Life Foundation. Once in the lab, one of the symbiotes named Venom bonds with Eddie and the pair help to each other alive. But, when Venom informs Eddie of a plot by another symbiote – Riot, who bonds with Drake – that endangers Earth, Venom and Eddie must set aside their differences and work together to take down Riot.
I’ll be honest with you: I had very low expectations for “Venom.” I just didn’t see how a live action Venom movie could work without Spider-Man. After all, Venom’s origin is forever linked to Spider-Man. But the filmmakers did something very smart by turning “Venom” into a buddy comedy between Eddie and Venom. This not only made me forget about Spider-Man’s absence, but it also made the origin changes seem organic, rather than forced.
The buddy aspect between Eddie and Venom also lead to some of the film’s funniest moments. Some of which had the entire theater laughing. Another nice thing about the script for Venom is that the writers recognize how wild and crazy the premise is. They poke fun at it here and there, but in a fun way. The film never takes itself too seriously, and I liked that.
I thought the script and the directing were pretty solid throughout. But one thing that was noticeably was the pace of the film, or rather, the slow pace. The first act is very interesting and shows how good Tom Hardy is at playing crazy, creepy, and weird. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the first act of “Venom” could have moved faster, or been cut down by 10-15 minutes.
However, Tom Hardy’s performance had me from his first scene. Instead of focusing just on Venom, the movie is all about Eddie Brock, his life, and how he’s adjusting to this new situation. Hardy made Brock funny, charismatic, and relatable. But most important of all, Hardy made the character someone I could root for. For the first time ever, I gave a damn about Eddie Brock. And for someone that’s been reading comics for 30 years, that’s saying something.
Michelle Williams also did a good job as Anne. I liked how even after the breakup, she never judged Eddie. She was mad and hurt of course, but she never stopped caring for him. When things hit the fan in the movie, Anne is the only person Eddie can trust, and she sticks with him through it all. Anne even saves him a couple of times and has one really cool scene where she bonds with Venom.
I do wish the filmmakers had done something else with Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). The performance wasn’t bad by any means. Ahmed can play a cool exec with a heart of steel, but he looked so young compared to everyone else. I kinda wish they’d given him a goatee, or glasses, or even a Blofeld scar. Anything so he didn’t look like a 12-year-old.
Perhaps “Venom” isn’t as good as an MCU film, but it isn’t trying to be. “Venom” is trying to tells its own story, with brand new characters, and they pulled it off. “Venom” was much better than I expected thanks to plenty of laughs, good action, and a great lead in Tom Hardy. The special effects on Venom were stunning, and beter than anything we saw in “Spider-Man 3.”
Maybe its due to my low expectations going in, maybe not. Whatever the case may be, by the time the credits rolled, I was ready for “Venom 2.”
“Venom” score: B+