Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Sufficient 'Venom' to enjoy despite flaws

Published:Monday | October 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Academy Award nominee Tom Hardy plays an investigative journalist who becomes the host of an alien symbiote that gives him super-human abilities and a horrific alter-ego, "Venom".

Eleven years ago, there was a frustratingly terribly movie called Spider-Man 3. Its tyranny showed the world one of the most beloved villains of all time, a hulking, vicious being fuelled purely by hatred, as portrayed by the guy from That '70s Show, Christopher Grace. Needless to say, it was a portrayal that left fans hungry - nay, starved, for a more substantial meal. Fast-forward to 2018, and the character is taking top billing. Played by Oscar-nominated actor Tom Hardy and helmed by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, it seemed the character was on a fast track to finally getting the treatment he deserves.

You might be surprised. You might even be astonished, flabbergasted to hear that, despite the veritable cavalcade of negative word coming out about this film, I actually enjoyed it. Not in an ironic way, or with a 'so bad it's good' energy. I thought Venom was a solid, engaging - yet flawed - superhero movie. I don't understand it, either.

Perhaps it's because Venom is so simple. It's about a man who, through every fault of his own, becomes a downtrodden loser. The glimpse at his perfect life that gets blown up by his own self-destructive tendencies is enough to make you feel for him when it all goes away. Seeing a character like that thrust into a tale of adventure with his new superpowered alien best friend, gave me everything I could have ever wanted.

At the centre of everything is Tom Hardy's performance as Eddie Brock. He's a little more than unhinged before coming under Venom's influence, and the character more than goes off the rails when the two become one. Think back to Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider and you get a sense of what you're in for. The two make for the most entertaining buddy cop pairing since Upgrade, a film with a startlingly similar premise and main actor lookalike.

The rest of the movie has a painfully bad villain, serious pacing issues, and a third act that devolves into messier visual effects than Sunday night on the sci-fi channel. It also has some eerily Gothic sequences, like Venom lurking in the dark, snarling hungrily at his prey, and Michelle Williams as an interesting romantic love interest, a role that so often feels like a waste of screen space. As Eddie Brock says about Venom himself, his power isn't completely terrible - and neither is the movie.

Rating: Half-Price