I have to admit, I did not know that Venom was co-created by Todd McFarlane, the same artist who created Spawn. No wonder both of the characters exhibit some striking resemblance; slimy black skin and overworked, boulder-like shoulders. I am quite sure most of you will eventually know that too, if you sit back long enough to unwillingly digest the ending credits, while waiting for the 2nd post credit scene. Yes, Venom has TWO post credit scenes, but I hardly think the 2nd one is worth my wait. Well, you have to check it out yourselves.
And as a 2nd confession, when I first came across rumors that Tom Hardy would appear in a solo Venom movie, I genuinely thought that it was a hoax. It’s simply going against the grain of what I deem as a standard casting procedure of Marvel films; to look for (almost) fresh, untapped talents to take up the leading roles. Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, Chadwick Boseman, and the list goes on and on. But Tom Hardy? “Nah, he is just too established for that”, I thought. Having endorsement from even the most acclaimed directors like Christopher Nolan, he is hardly the type of actor that would be casted for Venom. Well, here he is, Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in all his slimy symbiote-armor glory. It’s a huge surprise, and a pleasant one.
Well, there is virtually nothing to dislike about Hardy as Eddie Brock, the righteous and fearless investigative journalist whose life is drastically changed when a slimy alien symbiote gives him a visit. Of course, the plot had to go through little nits and bits on how Venom, as a symbiote, finds his way to earth, but the screen switched to establish Eddie Brock soon after that. Immediately, there was an instant rapport between me and the character. Hold on, I’m not an investigative journalist anticipating to bring down Elon Musk by any means, but the connection is surely there. It feels warm, familiar, and Brock’s light spirited, go-with-the-flow attitude and his relentless spirit to seek justice for the oppressed ticks all the right boxes to be a massively likable character.
I’m not sure to whom shall I give the applause to; Hardy or the screenwriters, for setting up the defining moment in the film in such a beautiful manner. No, I’m not referring to the final showdown of the movie, but rather, the transformation scenes when Venom has already found his way into Brock’s body and the latter doesn’t know what to do. The plot cleverly laid out each of the transformation “stages” in an orderly, progressive manner, and you are taken through these stages with immense suspense, with only short pauses occupied by humorous acts by Brock as he got clueless of what is about to happen to him. This continued on and the relentless teasing stopped only when the final form of Venom took center stage.
Even then, the story line continued to hold onto its own fair share of mystery. Well, an anti-hero like Venom with such powers will need an equally powerful super villain. Though initially a villain has been recognized, the super villain is still lurking around unknown corners. It feels delightfully similar to how Wonder Woman keeps you in the dark, far away from the final villain until the moment is right. In order not to spoil you, I think it is best to leave you into the hands of your local cinemas to gain the full Venom experience.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed the film, really. Which made it even harder for me to report to you, that once the final villain is identified, there is an unmistakable rush towards the final resolve, and before you know it, the climax is already happening right before your eyes. As with all things rushed, you are bound to find messy footprints, and for this case, unanswered questions remain afloat along the way. For Venom, it has managed to maintain considerable traction on the key plot points while stomping on the accelerator pedal, but for the audience who are usually caught off guard, digesting them poses to be a potential problem. Pair that with the lightning-fast pacing of CGI mayhem at the final battle before resolve is achieved, I found the 3rd act of the film to be slightly off-putting.
With that said, I need to be lightning-quick to clarify that the CGI is not at all shoddy, but quite the opposite, actually. A lot of elements play well together, like how the symbiotes realistically creep onto its victim(s) before being absorbed (or fused, to be exact) into that person’s body, or how Venom periodically breaks out of Brock’s body to save him from threats. And then you have Venom’s final form that exhibits so much slimy-ness that you won’t feel like holding onto it even in a life threatening situation. However, there is an obvious catch. When the CGI department only has Venom under its care in any specific scene, the effect is perfect. But when there are too many CGI trickery being compressed into a single scene, the experience is somewhat unnatural and becomes less palatable.
Venom vs Venom in Spider-Man 3
I couldn’t resist the temptation to compare the current Venom to the former adaptation of the same character, which appeared in Spider-Man 3 (2007). Boy, that film is surely overcrowded with villains, with each one trying to outdo the other to claim the best villain title. Ironically, none of them takes the cake, Venom included. To put it simply, Venom used to be just a blacked-out Spider-Man suit with overgrown teeth and angry eye patches. Even Avi Arad, one of the producers of Venom and Spider-Man 3, confessed that the earlier film didn’t do the character justice. The current Venom? Terrifyingly better. The proportion is sharply comic accurate, with the massively overdeveloped upper body, towering height, horrific long tongue and smaller but genuine looking eyes. It is the culmination of years of dream to bring the perfect Venom into the silver screen, and the result is nothing short of impressive.
Even then, one can assuredly say that it is Tom Hardy’s performance that completes the other half of the equation. If you have seen his work in other films as vastly different characters, you will realize that none of his antics in Venom is a duplicate or feels recycled. In Venom, he toned down his toughness, but amped up his wittiness by many folds. His one-liners are pure genius, like “What? You wanna walk me to death?”. I could sense that the scenes were the most talent-demanding when things were in limbo, with Venom almost taking control of Brock’s body. And yet, Hardy pulled off the whole act flawlessly. Every aspect of his transformation is artistically showcased; the sickness that he feels, his uncontrollable erratic behavior, his surprise upon seeing Venom appearing out of his body.
Perhaps the biggest barrier that contained Venom from unleashing it’s full potential is the PG-13 rating, which appears to have diluted the film by a considerable margin. Yes, you won’t see in detail how Venom in its final form gulping down someone’s head or chewing human limbs with his massive teeth, all in the name of preserving the franchise as family-friendly, so that possible future crossovers can be produced. Bummer. His menacing physique is still screaming to tear off the body of any unfortunate villain as we speak, and I believe many of the audience are still yearning to witness it in action, nonetheless.
Addict Verdict, AV:
Though being heavily chained down by a PG-13 rating, Venom pushed the limit to prove that it can still be a success even within a smaller workable space, and it certainly did. It can be a messy experience at times, specifically during the final 3rd of the film. But still, given the exceptionally likable Eddie Brock played by Hardy and the exhilarating ride that Venom has to offer, it is one of the very few messy experience that I would not mind to go through again and again.—The Film Addict