A patchwork medley that’s still pretty catchy.
This movie should've come out 5 years ago, it might have done better and not been as predictable. Still the buddy cop routine is amusing and Hardy makes it fun to watch.
By Tym Stevens
Sometimes compromises can be a corrosion.
Venom is Dorian Grays painting unleashed. In 1984, Spider-Man switched to a new costume, a morphing black mass that turned out to be an alien parasite infecting him. By 1988, the rejected symbiont bonded to a disgraced reporter to emerge as the supervillain Venom. As the character traded creative hands, the interesting idea of Spider-Mans doppelganger began to degrade. While the innovative 80s Comics Renaissance was reaching critical crest, mainstream Marvel was left adrift in the doldrums with scribbling hacks. But young kids oblivious to the real revolution bought boatloads of these bad comics and made the Scribble Crew superstars. Venom would personify the poison of the next decade: steroid overkill, vigilante aggro, and juvenile craft. (Next port: Image Comics.)
Avi Arad means well, but the film producer is only as good as his best directors: Steve Norrington (Blade), Bryan Singer (X Men), Sam Raimi (Spider-Man), and Marc Webb (Amazing Spider-Man). Without them, his Sony and Fox legacy of alternate Marvel films has been a walk of shame. Tellingly, it was the studio interference of forcing Venom into Spider-Man 3 (2007) that ruined that film. All of these tradeoffs consistently trail out. Ever frothing for franchise, Sony has exploited their Marvel rights while rarely getting it right, leaving a trail of failed B-movies decided by trend-chasers eyeing profit margins. Committee is the corruption.
The key is to honor the best aspects of the concept. Logan (2017) salvaged the problematic comics character X-23 by streamlining her back to poignant basics. Venom has the similar opportunity here to redeem a murderous vigilante into an anti-hero for the masses. But the film ends up shorting its potential doing everything by halves. A film trailered as an R-rated horror film was tamed into a PG-13 buddy farce. The A-list castTom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmedlifts B material by savvy talent. Hardy succeeds by force of will, doing an autopilot of his Brooklyn everyshmoe from The Drop (2014), but deserves better. He starts effectively as an ethical journalist looking out for the disenfranchised while exposing the corrupt, which is needed now more than ever. And yet the film essentially subverts him into Venoms bloodlust by degrees. Its all an unconscious mirror of the corrosion of creativity pattern that follows this character.
Sometimes all the compromises kind of work anyway. Despite its squirrely production, the flick sort of clicks. A Spider-Man film without Spider-Man, and a Venom film without true course, still has moments of social concern, romance beats, offbeat humor, and action spasms to carry it. The uneven result is a generally entertaining romp that would have seemed pretty solid a decade before, but often feels rather basic and diluted now.