By Steven Sheehan.
When Tom Hardy spoke about Venom in an interview the other day it sounded like he was getting in his excuses early.
He mentioned up to 40 minutes of his favourite footage was missing from the film. It sounded like a man who had seen the final version and knew there would be a stream of criticism heading his way.
And it’s hard to say he’s wrong. Venom has been a long time in the making and the sins of Spider-Man 3 have lived on long in the memory.
This was the film that was supposed to correct those wrongs. But nobody expected it would only make it worse.
Hardy is Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who has his own TV show that exposes the corruption and misdeeds of the rich and powerful.
When he’s assigned to interview the head of The Life Foundation, Dr Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), he can’t help but speak out about the megalomaniacal tech tycoon’s evil ways.
Soon enough Eddie loses his job and later that day also his engagement to Anne Weying (Michelle Williams).
Suddenly his life is a mess and we jump forward 6 months. Dr Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) suddenly contacts Eddie to explain she works for Drake. In their lab, Drake has been attempting to merge humans with alien life forms called Symbiotes with brutal results.
Eddie is given access to the lab and becomes infected by a Symbiote. It starts to take over his body to give him super strength or morphs completely into Venom who likes nothing more than chewing on people’s heads.
The rest of the film involves Eddie trying to separate himself from Venom while stopping Drake from setting off a plan that would spark a Symbiote invasion.
While Hardy is looking for excuses about the film, he isn’t hiding with his performance. His body language helps to sell his role, both as Brock and Venom.
He’s dishevelled and hunched over as the reporter, playing up the physical comedy where needed. When Venom takes over and starts throwing around bad guys Hardy can only apologise as they are knocked out cold.
There was hope Venom would be an 18 when it was announced. But as a 15 it is horribly neutered. Where Marvel’s Logan found success as a bloody standalone film, Venom could’ve done the same.
Instead what we get is a torrent of lame humour rather than fun-filled gore. Eddie eats a live lobster! Eddie chomps down tater-tots! The list goes on and on and…
The CGI doesn’t fare much better which makes you wonder where the $100m budget was spent on the film.
It feels like a throwback to 90s superhero films – but not in a good way. The script is terrible and great actors like Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are given next to nothing to work with.
Hardy voices Venom’s deep growling voice but again it’s laced with dead humour and rarely a hint of menace.
As a superhero film, you’d expect a sequel to be in the pipeline but it’s hard to make a case for it with Venom. The world has waited this long for the anti-hero’s own movie, but perhaps one is more than enough.
Venom is released nationwide in UK cinemas today.