Venom (Review) – The Sony Shared Universe Begins? (Movies I Missed)

Venom (2018) Sony Pictures

“VENOM” came out back in October starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in what would be Sony’s first venture with a solo film centered on a comic-book villain. For those unfamiliar, this is the story of investigative journalist Eddie Brock. While trying to uncover evidence of dangerous human trials being conducted at a research facility called the Life Foundation, he is exposed to the Symbiote that will manifest into the deadly creature named Venom.

This movie ended up making my ‘Top-10 Surprising Movies of the Year’ list. It’s in the top-ten worldwide earnings list for 2018. But I will be honest, I wasn’t overly excited for it. Even after watching trailers. I just wasn’t too in on the concept of a movie about a Spider-man villain, without having Spider-man in it. Also, despite being a movie about a villain per say, I expected the anti-hero route to be taken and the overall the idea just didn’t wow me. But much to my surprise, I had a great time with this one and found it to be much better than I was expecting it to be.

It was a much simpler comic-book film. It had a throwback feel to it that made the simplicity of the plot-line almost feel nostalgic at times. It is also on the formulaic side. It definitely follows the origin-story template by the numbers. But I felt with the substance added to this familiar template, that it was still an entertaining adventure with this character in the spotlight. Where the story may have lacked, I think the performance from Hardy certainly made up for it. He’s solid in everything he’s in. He’s great in most all of his roles, and this one was no different. The physical-acting Hardy put into his performance was fantastic. I felt it perfectly captured the duality of the character. And all the frantic reactions and mannerisms that could come from a person in Brock’s position with this creature living inside him were captured perfectly by Hardy.

It was entertaining to see Venom on the big-screen and the visual aesthetic was extremely well done. But I must be honest, it wasn’t as genuinely enjoyable as it was seeing Hardy play Eddie Brock with the Symbiote inside of him. I do think Hardy stole the show. This made Venom the true second star of the film. Which was a good thing for the intent of this movie. I think it made the familiar beats of the story-line less of a hindrance because there was an abundance of personality throughout from both from Hardy as Brock, and from the dialogue written for Venom.

I also enjoyed the performance of Riz Ahmed. He delivered some genuine intensity with this role. I think he was given an extremely generic story-arc to work with. We have seen the (scientist heartlessly testing on humans to get their projects off the ground) trope down endless times. Yet I think with Ahmed’s delivery he was able to provide some menacing tones that made him more than just a serviceable villain. Michelle Williams was a nice addition as well. She had a great chemistry with Hardy that I felt did a good job of capturing their turbulent romance. I enjoyed their scenes together and they sold me on the love they have for one another because of the energy I felt between them. And she too made the most out of some simplistic, near surface-level development.

The action-sequences were fun. The special-effects were well done, and I thought the look of Venom was awesome. The weaving of the Symbiote inside Hardy was extremely detailed and had the right amount of depth to it. The film delivered some great visuals that effectively brought Venom to life like so many had been waiting for. I do think the action was second tier to the performance of Hardy, but it was more than enough to feel satisfying.

Where the fight-sequences later in the film felt familiar is where the writing came in nicely to capture more of that snarky Venom personality to make it just fresh enough. With so many comic-book movies venturing into the universe and the multi-verses it was fun to bring one back down to earth, with a more grounded and contained feel. Without the need to trying to connect to other properties this movie was able to create its own atmosphere. It was routine at times but also very refreshing during others, and if you haven’t given it a chance yet, I recommend doing so.