By Jonathan Reed
It feels like a lifetime since the announcement of a stand-alone Venom movie. With revelation after revelation of the cast, plot and potential character appearances, Venom was released to the comic book movie world. And just like the original teaser trailer, which was released to a less than impressed response, Venom falls short of its ultimate potential.
Out of all of the characters within the Marvel Universe, perhaps Venom is the most tricky to get right. They tried with Spider-Man 3 in 2007, and that portrayal was so despised that it would take another 10-years before the idea of the symbiotic villain appearing in the movie-making world was discussed.
But fast forward to 2018 and here we are, with a solo outing from Spider-Man’s most fearsome enemy. On paper, everything about Venom should work. The cast is truly A-List with Tom Hardy taking the titular role of Eddie Brock, Michelle William’s as Eddie’s ex-fiancée and attorney, Anne Weying and Riz Ahmed as genius inventor, Carlton Drake. The director Ruben Fleischer gave us the brilliant Zombieland, and ultimately this is a spinoff of Marvel’s most successful and popular Superhero series, Spider-Man. Taking all of this into account, the only question left to ask is why didn’t it work? Or at least, most of it?
Like I stated earlier, Venom has a somewhat chequered past with the movie world and bids to create a successful version to please fans and critics alike have been batted back and forth for years. After the miserable incarnation in Spider-Man 3, the hope of a new movie seemed a pipedream. Then came the announcement of the new Venom, and whilst the initial response was positive, that quickly vanished with the release of the teaser trailer.
The title character of which the movie was named after, Venom was missing. This caused a confused response from fans, but the confusion dissipated soon afterwards once the first glimpse of the black, shiny monster was revealed.
Suddenly, everyone seemed excited! This was the version of Venom we had all wanted to see, but sadly the excitement has been short lived.
Out of all the more frustrating aspects about Venom, and there are many, perhaps the biggest is this. A character with unlimited potential and a freedom to play with a chaotic personality, is stuck within a stereotypical box of clichés and stilted scripting. Venom/Brock plays, whether it be fighting vigilantes, or other symbiotic creatures, but it never makes any sense.
The lack of structure to the plot creates a patch-work story which deviates at random intervals leaving the movie feeling disjointed. This lack of plot configuration fails to give room for Hardy to fully explore Venom/Brock and limits a character with so much to give. Though what Hardy does with what he is given shows some glimpse of hope if future Venom movies are greenlit.
It’s not just Venom that fails to take off, the ensemble have the same problem. The past relationship with William’s character, Anne isn’t fully explored and the main villain of Carlton Drake/Riot brings nothing new to the supervillain realm. Ultimately, Venom falls into those section of films that create a supporting cast that is sadly worthless.
Disregarding the mess that is the plot and character development, Venom in aspects, is fun; a messy fun. The scenes where Venom takes on a gang of gun-wielding soldiers is entertaining and glimpses the potential of what could-have-been. It also gives fans a version of Venom that was lacking in Spider-Man 3; a brutal predator. He bites heads off and kills willingly, he is a villain but that formula isn’t built upon.
The lack of development regarding Brock’s psychological struggle with a parasite taking over his body is an interesting take, yet it is ignored. It is in this that Venom fails to deliver. It never reaches into the beyond, delving into the human struggle of the most dramatic personality hi-jack. This is where the true potential of Venom is lost and its disappointing to say the least.
Venom could have been so much more and it is frustrating when it consistently falls short of its hinted potential, and no amount of brilliant special effects, which there are, can hide this fact.
Though it isn’t all bad news. With Hardy recently revealing he has signed on for another two movies, there is still time for the character to be redeemed with a movie that is befitting of the legendary character. And as long as Marvel take the good parts of Venom, and there are some, and build upon them to create a unique plot which is both exciting and rewarding, they’ll have a hit on their hands for both fans and critics alike.