Film Review – Venom

Venom (M)

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Three stars

Review by Julian Wright

Some film-goers may get a sense of deja vu with the release this week of Venom but it is not an anomaly for two similarly themed films to be come out within the same calendar year.

It happened as far back as Dr. Stranglove and Fail-Safe in 1964 and as recently as Churchill and Darkest Hour last year with Antz/A Bug’s Life (1998) and The Prestige/The Illusionist (2006) just some of the examples in between.

This year we got Logan Marshall-Green animatedly flinging himself around Leigh Whannell’s clever low budget sci-fi Upgrade – which remains the better “man’s body controlled by another entity” film, but Sony’s comic book based Venom is a decent crack at it.

When bio-engineering corporation Life Foundation’s space prob exploring habitable planets in space returns with four symbiotic lifeforms, CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) begins experimenting on humans – namely homeless ones.

Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) starts sniffing around and when he attempts to expose Carlton’s work, his fiance and Life Foundation employee Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) is fired, she dumps Eddie and he immediately loses his job.

venom

Six months later, down and out Eddie is approached by scientist with Dr Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who feels icky about the experiment’s death toll and she takes him to the lab where he is infected and eventually controlled by one of the symbiots – the sneering and human head-eating Venom.

Not without elements that allow it to be a fun trip, the anti-hero character and darker tone is a nice shift from the now far too familiar and predictably digestible Avengers movies, however, there is plenty that sits awkwardly in Venom.

Much like Nicole Kidman’s ventures into big budget film territory, the immensely talented Williams gives it a fair go, but seems out of place – perhaps struggling with material that resembles real life in almost no way at all.

Additionally, even though Venom is supposed to look like a grimy blob of shiny, oily goo, the special effects that bring it to life are poorly designed and some of the transitions look  unpolished.

It skips along at a brisk pace, with a couple of nice action sequences and a sense of humour, but the final climax is a night-time set, dimly lit mess of melding humans and symbiots tussling around with a couple of shots comically bordering on orgy-esque.

Any exploration of the internal battle and relationship between Eddie and his parasite remains comfortably at surface level – in true superhero style of late.

Watch the trailer here.

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