Courtesy of Sony Pictures
A classic comic book anti-hero finally receives his big screen solo film. “Venom,” the Tom Hardy-fronted Sony film led by “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer, follows the origin of one of Spider-Man’s most famous villains.
Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a San Francisco journalist who, while investigating a shady corporation, accidentally merges with an alien organism and later becomes the anti-hero known as Venom.
Unfortunately, Hardy’s performance is the only worthwhile thing about the film. Hardy is well-known from his gritty roles in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” so his portrayal of Brock is a good fit for him, bringing a bulky, athletic persona to the iconic comic book role. His stellar acting accurately produces the actions and feelings of someone who could become possessed by an alien parasite.
Despite his good performance, Hardy had better chemistry with Venom than with the female protagonist, portrayed by Michelle Williams. Hardy’s character and Venom are a perfect fit, combining a fun sense of a buddy buddy cop drama. There’s humor but also a softer message between the jokes that connects to the whole story, while the relationship between Hardy and Williams just seems to sputter aimlessly as the film progresses.
Even with the lack of Venom’s foil, Spider-Man, the film is able to keep you engaged.
Fleischer’s career includes movies such as “Zombieland” and “Gangster Squad,” where the pacing and setting of the film meets what the movies aim to be, unlike “Venom.”
“Venom”’s tone throughout is jarring. The film flip-flops from a dark, gritty and serious film to light-hearted slapstick comedy. If Fleischer wanted to improve his film, he should have stuck with a specific tone.
The dialogue wasn’t much better, as almost every joke thrown out of an actor’s mouth was sub-par humor. There’s a lot of corny lines and slapstick jokes, one being Hardy constantly reminding Venom not to eat people. The joke works once, but it’s told in the same way every time, and they rarely warrant much more than a chuckle.
The pacing in the film was off as well. The first and third acts seem too fast-paced while the second act was the only saving grace. There, the film really introduces us to the companionship between Brock and Venom, but the rest of the film rushes through its brief run-time.
The best way to describe the movie is by Venom’s now-infamous quote. In one scene, Venom is talking to a criminal in a convenience store, calling him a “turd in the wind.” Too bad the real crime committed here is the movie itself.
“Venom” tried to make the famous villain become something that it couldn’t. If you want to see a good portrayal of Venom, rewatch “Spider-Man 3.”
OVERALL SCORE: ★★½
“Venom,” starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed and directed by Ruben Fleischer, hits theaters Friday.