Opinion, Reviews

Venom: A good blockbuster that tried to be something more

Sony Pictures has tried to create their own “Spider-Man” universe in recent years. There was “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012 starring Andy Garfield as the Wall Crawler. It was a solid movie.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” followed in 2014 with the hopes of more movies to come, but it was a bad movie and it derailed the franchise. On the bright side, this caused Sony to come to terms with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is why Spider-Man appeared in Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.”

Yet despite this, here is another Spider-Man related movie from Sony Pictures, only this one doesn’t star Spider-Man. This one stars Venom. Originally created as an antihero, Venom is usually closely associated with Spider-Man, but “Venom” is designed to be a stand-alone film.

At first I was skeptical after hearing Sony was trying to make another superhero movie. Then I was excited; I realized this movie has the potential to be a superhero movie that doesn’t follow an actual hero, but an antihero.

In “Venom,” Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a journalist who becomes infected by a symbiotic alien. The creature, simply called Venom, bonds with Brock, becoming a living suit and giving Brock superpowers. Together, Brock teams up with Venom to help stop a plot that threatens the world.

The whole “save the world” thing sounds unoriginal, doesn’t it? “Venom” does have several tropes of superhero movies. However, “Venom” does try to distance itself from the rest of the superheroes and this struggle brings mixed results.

To a certain point, Brock is the average superhero. He’s good hearted and wants to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Venom has the craving to eat people and occasionally threatens to eat Brock. They are two completely different characters, and they have to work with each other. Brock and Venom have an interesting dynamic and their banter is more entertaining than usual.

There are other ways the filmmakers try to shake the typical structure of a superhero blockbuster.

For example, in the beginning we watch Brock going about his normal day and interacting with other people. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s a nice change of pace and the people he encounters pay off later in the movie. On the other hand, it takes too long.

Hardy, as usual, gives a good performance. He plays not only Brock, but also provides the voice for Venom. While Venom’s voice does sound a little strange, and I’m not sure how accurate his New York accent is for Brock, Hardy does do a good job. I enjoyed the mannerisms he added to Brock. He feels like a more layered character. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hardy appear as Brock/Venom again in a sequel – I’ll get to that later on.

It’s hard to say for sure, but this movie feels like it is missing something. Maybe it tried too hard to distance itself and stumbled in the process. Maybe it’s the pacing or the tone, which both feel off. “Venom” feels a little strange with its gritty violence and horror-esque scenes alongside upbeat humor. That said, neither of these elements are bad. The dark subject matter is engaging and the humor is funny. “Venom” is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who previously directed “Zombieland,” which is funny and gory. So these elements could’ve worked, but they weren’t established that well.

However, “Venom” is a good movie. A lot better than it should’ve been. And, unlike the “Amazing Spider-Man” movies, I’m probably more likely to watch “Venom” again.

It’s entertaining, has fun moments and good action and the dynamic between Brock and Venom is interesting. I would recommend seeing it. It has the same quality as the average Marvel movie, but it’s definitely not on par with a movie such as “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Watch with realistic expectations and you’ll probably like it.

There is an end credit scene at the end of “Venom,” which has almost become a rule for all superhero films. There’s only one, so stick around because it hints at a possible sequel. It will feature Woody Harrelson as the supervillain Carnage and I’m interested to see it. There’s one planned for next year. If it’s anything like “Venom,” it will be something good that’s worth watching at least once.

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