Venom Movie Review
In a perfect world, Venom is a piece of art, a fluid, brilliantly acted piece of filmmaking. In the real world, one of sin and darkness, Venom is the disaster the marketing indicated it would be, a sloppy, off kilter and horribly written comic book adaptation that isn’t quite as baffling as 2015’s Fantastic Four… but comes pretty damn close.
Oscar nominee Tom Hardy gives us one of the most awful performances of the year, while four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, relegated to the traditionally useless girlfriend role (only worse), is nearly as bad—proof that terrible writing can conquer even the greatest of performers. As if sensing the shit he’d gotten himself into, Hardy dons his most absurd, random accent to date, perhaps an act of retaliation against both director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and his agent for casting him in this steaming pile of turd.
Venom, like Fantastic Four, feels sliced to death, and if Hardy is to be believed, “40 minutes” of stuff was cut to make the final product. The first hour is an aimless and dull slog—my friend slept through much of it—that takes way too long to get to the point and subjects the audience to Hardy’s awfulness, among other things.
The title character, a Spider-Man villain in a world where there is no Spider-Man, doesn’t fully appear until a whopping 70 minutes into the movie. With only 40 minutes to go, Venom suddenly kicks into overdrive, racing to an anticlimactic CGI-laden climax that seemingly skips over several major plot points…
Most notably the stretch where the toothy symbiote decides to become a good guy. In one scene, Venom is telling its host that it wants to kill everyone, and minutes later it says, “I’ve decided to stay” and more or less be a good guy.
An increasingly incoherent plot is marred by dreadful dialogue (“My legs were broken, and now my legs aren’t broken”), and the worst part is most of it isn’t even unintentionally funny. There are some parts that evoke pained laughter, but most of the movie is too bland to elicit much reaction at all.
Venom has one or two brief bursts of decent action, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll care by that point. The visual effects aren’t great, though the creature design is pretty solid. There are a couple intentionally funny parts that work.
Venom is a turd of a movie. Deciding to make a movie about a Spider-Man villain without Spider-Man was a poor decision to begin with, but few could anticipate just how poorly written and executed this movie could be. Watch it only if you want to be mystified by its inanity.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.