BEIRUT: The long-awaited, and overly-hyped first Sony production of a character in the universe of the red and blue with a spider emblem hero without the hero himself has finally arrived in cinemas, and boy was it an utter disappointment.
Whatever Sony’s thought process was behind deciding to produce a film (with potential franchise) about Eddie Brock/Venom, one of Marvel’s greatest and most complex characters and a character that is tied to Peter Parker even though he has his own comic book series, is beyond reason or understanding.
Yet, here we are and the film exists.
The film follows journalist Eddie Brock, abstractly played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to take down the notorious founder of the Life Foundation, genius Carlton Drake, played surprisingly well by Riz Ahmed – and that obsession ruins his career and his relationship with his girlfriend, Anne Weying, played by Michelle Williams.
Upon investigating one of Drake’s experiments, the alien Venom merges with Eddie’s body, and he suddenly has incredible new superpowers, as well as the chance to do just about whatever he wants.
At his core, Venom is dangerous, he’s scary, he’s unpredictable, his dark wit is matched only by his predilection for violence… yet none of that is properly portrayed in the film which has been censored down to match its PG-13 rating, a decision that will cost Sony in the long run.
If one thing can be said about this film, it’s that it is one massive missed opportunity.
The film’s screenplay, written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel, is choppy, illogical, and has so many plot holes it’s surprising it stayed afloat.
To add to that, the screenplay has the worst dialogue ever spoken in any super-hero film.
It’s filled with exposition – long-winded scenes where characters literally explain everything an audience needs to know in the worst way possible killing any mystery to keep the audience intrigued.
VENOM suffered tonally, as well.
The biggest trick in any Marvel Studios film is the balance between high stakes and humor – with the trick being that the humor does not rid a dramatic moment from its weight on the over-arching narrative. This weakens the film and strips it of its supposed darkness and turns its central anti-hero into a wannabe Deadpool.
VENOM’s screenwriters could not balance this at all, as jokes popped up unnecessarily and came off as contrived, forced, and completely out of place.
There are some minor positives in this film.
The visual effects regarding the symbiotes are really well made – as it looks biologically sound and believable.
The first fight sequence with Eddie Brock/Venom and the Life Foundation lackies was really well choreographed and executed, and it also led to an exciting motorcycle chase across San Francisco.
The final fight between Venom and Riot, though at times quite disorienting, had a remarkable moment where all slows down and both Eddie and Drake are seen within their symbiotes.
This moment is visually stunning, yet when it is seen in context, it loses its power and effectiveness.
It is rather disappointing to see an anti-hero like Venom be censored down and lose the darkness, edginess, and violence that he deserves.
Though the end of the film teases a sequel, something tells me Sony will likely launch this franchise back into space to join the rest of the symbiote species.
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