Cinemaster Score: 5.5/10
Venom – for all it’s shortcoming – is a very fun and entertaining watch. The camp dialogue is bad but easy to follow and at least adds humor. Story moments are somewhat generic – yet still unpredictable – and makes for some truly strong scenes. The actors, while still not at their best (except for Hardy), do seem like they are at least trying with their characters. For some reason, the dynamic relationship between Venom and Eddie Brock are one of the best representations of the characters we’ve ever seen. Throughout, there are several scenes that harken back to the comics and give fans many reasons to watch. While Venom is bad at times, it is also the most faithful version of the character, and a fun excursion.
Acting; Yes, there are acting performances in Venom beyond Tom Hardy’s. Although, they matter very little in comparison. Without Tom Hardy, Venom would barely be worth watching. Hardy brings his skills to a movie with little else. His reactions to the situations feel genuine and real. Not to mention Hardy’s voice acting as Venom. Hardy makes Venom sound the way many comic book fans imagine him and above all else, it’s hard to tell it is Hardy’s voice. He is also able to take a really rough script and make it almost bearable – an impressive feat for any actor. Oh, and there is a cameo from Woody Harrelson and who doesn’t like Woody Harrelson?
Script; Venom has one of the worst superhero film scripts ever seen, and that’s saying a lot. It has some of the most simplistic, cheesy, and cliché dialogue I expect from a B-movie – not a multimillion dollar affair. Tom Hardy seems like he has to improvise some key emotions, making for choppy scenes full of forced exposition and cringe-worthy acting. The villains have no motive or inclination to be memorable, with a distinct lack of uniqueness or originality. Side characters have no semblance of a personality, just sequences of fake emotion strewn together by uninteresting dialogue. Venom has – without a doubt – one of the worst scripts in superhero movie history.
Characters; There are no memorable characters in Venom, save for Hardy’s Eddie Brock. He is the most interesting of them all, with several scene stealing moments and interactions with Venom. Eddie Brock and Venom are separate at first, but develop a symbiotic relationship that drives the film. They evolve through a rather simple character arc, but nonetheless evolve – unlike the rest of the cast of characters. The villain and the supporting cast are also boring and generic in their purpose, and they do little to make the movie special. If anything, they take away from the film and end up leaving Venom worse than it could have been.
Direction; Ruben Fleischer (Director) leaves much to be desired from Venom when considering how amazing we all know his direction has been in the past. Fleischer is known as the esteemed director of Zombieland, a movie that has lighter humour than the dark times it’s set in. Unfortunately, something didn’t seem to transfer over quite right into Venom. The humor doesn’t really land often and fits the film’s tone terribly. The way Fleischer chooses to portray Venom’s personality is odd. Compared to the comic book source material, Venom follows the origin well. But it seems Venom could have been better with someone different steering the ship. Someone such as Leigh Whannel (Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3), who would have had a better fitting directional style for a story with such a considerably darker tone.
Story; The story for Venom’s cinematic debut (as a stand-alone film, that is) appears to be new and interesting. When you take a deeper look at it though, that appearance is revealed to be an illusion. Sure, Venom starts by catching the attention of the audience (especially comic fanatics). But after that, what does Venom’s story have? Very little is what. The rest of the story is extremely generic. You have a pinch of a buddy action-comedy mixed in with superhero film stereotypes. The villain is a slightly more powerful – but otherwise completely the same – version of our “hero”. The struggling protagonist has generic issues (besides the symbiotes). The final fight has a predictable outcome. Overall, the story is a bland retelling of what we’ve seen time and time again.
Enjoyment; Despite Venom being quite lackluster in nearly every category, it remains to be inexplicably enjoyable. It is fun to watch if you keep an open mind and ignore what was shown in the trailers. Beyond those moments we had a sneak peek of, it isn’t terribly cringe-inducing and is actually pretty entertaining. The story feels like something you’d read straight out of a comic and is faithful to its source material. The CGI reels in a Venom that is the very best (visually) in cinema. The fights are a good show as well when it comes down to being a good watch. On top of all that is one of the most interesting (to say the least) Tom Hardy performances that renew love for the great veteran star. So even though it isn’t so good where it counts critically, Venom is a bumpy – but definitely enjoyable – ride.
David: “When going into theatres to see Venom, I felt two things. Both doubtful from the review I had seen, as well as hopeful for the film to surprise me and have been underrated. Oddly enough both of these feelings ended up summing up my experience. Venom – to me – is definitely not good logistically, but was fun throughout.”
JP: “On the one hand, it’s easy to see why Venom got bad reviews – thanks to the bad script, forced acting, and a boring plot. But on the other hand, I love Venom for its camp fun and dark humor. While it does have its terrible moments, Venom is underrated in its ability to simply entertain from beginning to end.”