I’ll admit I had some anticipation leading up to the release of this Marvel comics adaptation. Last time we got to see the character was in the ill-fated Spider-Man 3, of which I recall the Venom aspect being one of the better parts. So with the casting of Tom Hardy, an actor who often takes to a challenging role with relish and (usually) delivers … this just couldn’t fail.
Hardy plays TV reporter Eddie Brock who comes into contact with the alien substance after investigating a crooked business man who is doing shady experiments, and soon finds himself part man part alien when the substance uses Eddie as a way to break free from a top secret facility. Nothing that original plot-wise and an underwhelming feeling doesn’t stop there despite some recognisable names amongst the cast and a cool shape-shifting character at it’s core. Yet as it turns out neither the film makers nor the cast seem to know how to handle the material. This is not helped by actors (especially Hardy) who come off as uncomfortable and uneasy with their own performance (along with a dodgy American accent) and even Michelle WIlliams, usually dependable (she’s great in The Greatest Showman) phones her role like she’s only eyeing up a pay cheque. Villain Riz Ahmed, decent in other movies I’ve seen him is is woefully miscast here also.
The movie does have a couple of things going for it … when the action finally turns up it’s pretty fun with the way Venom / Hardy uses his powers to take on bad guys and scale buildings, and the effects work is generally decent. Also once we get he banter going between Venom & Hardy, there’s some fun interplay between the two characters. However as a movie it’s far too focused on a limp script and under-developed characters I’m not sure what went wrong. Studio interference? Bad direction? Whatever it was, the problems are all their, clear as day on the screen. Disappointing.
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