After a botched feature film debut in the ill-fated Spider-Man 3, Sony tries to give the character of Venom another chance with, you guessed it, Venom. Does Sony have a hit with this movie or are they just delaying the inevitable acquisition of the Spider-Man film rights by Disney?
The best thing about this movie is, unsurprisingly, Venom. Although the titular character is supposed to be antagonistic, there is a reason that he is a favorite amongst Spider-Man fans. He is truly the highlight of the movie. Another great thing about this movie (besides Venom of course) is Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock. I felt that he carried most of the movie thanks to his interactions with the titular symbiotic character (also played by Hardy).
On the other hand, Venom is a garbled mess. The main problem with this movie is its identity crisis. The movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a body horror film in the style of David Cronenberg or if it wants to be a more comedic superhero (or anti-villain in this case) movie in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarök. Venom felt like a pre-MCU Marvel movie from the early 2000s. Sure, the movie looked cool, but it was mostly style over substance. While I was doing some research for this review, I found out that approximately 40 minutes of the movie was cut out in order to secure a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Is Sony aware that R rated superhero movies could be financially viable thanks to movies such as Deadpool and Logan? I feel like the movie is being held back by insecure Sony executives.
Another problem I had with this movie (aside from its cast) is with its characters. Aside from Tom Hardy, I felt there was wasted potential with much of the cast. For example, Michelle Williams is a great actor in my opinion. However, I felt that her acting was severely under-utilized in this movie. Her character barely appears in this movie. In addition to that, I felt the relationship between her character and Eddie Brock was severely underdeveloped. Although the audience is supposed to root for their relationship, there was no chemistry between the two characters. While I thought that Riz Ahmed was fine as Carlton Drake/Riot, I felt that his character was just a generic villain. I felt that there was no motivation for the character.
Overall, Venom felt like an effort by Sony Pictures to retain the Spider-Man film rights for as long as possible. As of this review, the film rights for the Spider-Man franchise are currently in limbo. It’s just a matter of time before Disney acquires it. Otherwise, the movie has no identity.