Venom is the latest comic book character to grace in the big screen, in Columbia Pictures’ Venom directed by Ruben Fleischer. The film opens up introducing us to investigative reporter and golden boy Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Blessed with an alluring fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams), his own TV show and a spacious apartment, Eddie appears to have it all. Eddie’s inquisitive natures allows him to get on the bad side of Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), Eddie loses everything.
Months later, Eddie gets an offer he cannot refuse by one of Drake’s scientists who has grown weary of Drake’s motives. Through a series of circumstances, Eddie becomes the host of an alien symbiote that gives him a violent super alter ego: Venom. Soon, he must rely on his newfound powers to protect the world from a shadowy organization looking for a symbiote of their own evil deeds.
Since making his first appearance in a 1986 issue of the “Web of Spider-Man” series Venom has remained a fan favorite. The character made an ill-received appearance in 2007’s Spider Man 3, so a reboot was in order. The screenwriters make the wise choice to adopt “Lethal Protector” (Venom becomes a vigilante guardian hero for San Francisco) and “Planet of the Symbiotes” (Earth is invaded by an army of symbiotes) for the film’s central plot.
In the lead role, Tom Hardy does his usual solid work by fully committing to the role. To portray the role properly, Hardy made the wise to provide the voice and physical stand-in for several scenes of Venom. While the CGI may be a distraction for some, I was quite impressed with the CGI. The rest of the cast also does their fair share in their roles; however, Venom truly is the Tom Hardy show.
Director Ruben Fleischer makes a welcome return to features after spending the last five years, directing shows for various comedic television series. Fleisher still has a natural eye for impressive action sequences. One of the sequences involving a chase through the streets of San Francisco is worth the price of admission alone. Despite solid direction though, Venom does have its share of problems.
One of the main issues with Venom is the film’s tone. Rumors initially swirled of star Tom Hardy and director Ruben Fleischer clashing on set and it is apparent through the film. Watching the film, it comes off that Ruben Fleischer wanted to have a darker mainstream approach, while Tom Hardy wanted to stay true to the character and his comic book origins while adding his own twist. Another problem I had with Venom concerns the final fight between Venom and the big bad, as it is too brief and confusing due to the heavy CGI usage.
Despite these two issues, I can still recommend Venom solely on the risks it takes. Instead of being a straightforward superhero origin story, at its core Venom is a good old-fashioned buddy comedy. While this approach will not work for everyone’s tastes, I genuinely enjoyed Venom and walked out with a smile on my face.
Superhero origin films are not usually the sign of what is to come in a potential franchise. Based on the post-credit scenes I have a feeling Venom will truly find its footing in the sequel. While Venom is nowhere near as good as the other superhero films released this year Venom is a fine start to a franchise.
Final Grade: B