★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Sony & Marvel are usually like water & oil: they don't go together well. Both of The Amazing Spider-Man films, while good, didn't have as much panache as the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Venom, the first entry in Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters, has some good parts, but ultimately fails at being a good superhero film. The film follows Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy), an investigative journalist in San Francisco. Eddie is currently engaged to Anne Weying (played by Michelle Williams), an attorney who is working to defend the Life Foundation, headed by Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed).
One day, Eddie is scheduled to interview Drake, but beforehand, Eddie discovers that Drake has been trying to implant symbiotic lifeforms in human hosts, with damaging results. Although Eddie is told to go easy on Drake, he eventually goes back on this order, & finds himself fired from his job, along with Anne ending their relationship.
Six months later, Eddie is completely despondent, & Drake is still continuing symbiosis trials. One day, Dora Skirth (played by Jenny Slate), a scientist at the Life Foundation, comes to Eddie, wanting to expose Drake & asking Eddie to help, to which he reluctantly agrees. While investigating the facility, Eddie is attacked by a test subject, & the symbiote bonds itself to Eddie, who is now being chased after by Drake & his main henchman, Roland Treece (played by Scott Haze).
After some tests done by Anne's new boyfriend, Dr. Dan Lewis (played by Reid Scott), Eddie still has the symbiote in him, & he is the only living specimen with the symbiote. Soon after, the symbiote starts talking to Eddie, revealing itself as Venom (voiced by Tom Hardy). Venom tells Eddie that the symbiotes have come to devour the inhabitants of the planets, but Venom will spare Eddie if he helps the symbiotes do what they came to do. Eventually, Eddie grows to like having Venom inside him. But as another symbiote, Riot, ravages looking for a host, & as Drake continues after him, Eddie & Venom must defeat those who stand in their way.
The cast is great. Tom Hardy has such a fun time doing the banter between Eddie & Venom, & he ultimately makes the film more enjoyable. Michelle Williams does a good job in her limited screen time, & Riz Ahmed is also good.
Ruben Fleischer's direction is inept. Fleischer takes a bland approach to the film, ultimately retreading old ground instead of breaking new ground.
The screenplay by Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenberg & Kelly Marcel is incompetent. The plot is mostly mediocre, especially the first 30 minutes, & the tone is wildly inconsistent. There are some scenes that do work, mainly scenes where Eddie & Venom play off of each other, but those are in short supply.
And the visual effects are very good. While there are a few moments where the CGI does fail, it does succeed for the most part, especially for a film with a budget that is much less than many other superhero films.
This is an inconsistent & disappointing film. While there are some aspects of the film that are good, they are overshadowed by its faults.
Venom was seen by me at the MJR Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14 in Clinton Township, MI on Friday, October 5, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 112 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence & action, & for language.