Critic Consensus: Venom's first standalone movie turns out to be like the comics character in all the wrong ways - chaotic, noisy, and in desperate need of a stronger attachment to Spider-Man.
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Critic Reviews for Venom
A tone-deaf, uneven and maddeningly dumb clunker that never settles on an identity, all the way to the closing credits.
It's hard to mess up a car chase up and down the streets of San Francisco and Fleischer certainly doesn't, though at these speeds we should be gasping and laughing instead of just nodding our heads.
Is it a comedy? Is it an action film? [Venom] makes no pretense of being anything more than a superhero film,... trading the thematic material present in most major superhero ventures for biting off people's heads.
The Venom symbiote requires a perfect match to bond with its host; otherwise, the host is doomed. The Venom movie plays like a midnight horror that has invaded a superhero movie, and while there are some laffs to be had, it's far from a perfect match.
Audience Reviews for Venom
Forceful, cringe-worthy CGI, dialogue and humor, Venom needs more than just its witty, charming chemistry from Hardy and his symbiotic counterpart to save what seems to be just another sub-par entry in Sony's attempt to salvage what universe it has or is trying to create. 2.3/5
Was it really necessary to remake Leigh Whannell's Upgrade within the same year? Of course, this is Sony Pictures we're talking about who are lucky if they can avoid butchering a film, much less finish a full cut before release. It makes sense that they would leave all of that heavy lifting (plot, characters, machinations, etc.) to a film where the makers thought of it as anything more than a paycheck. They certainly had the good sense to assemble a fairly good cast (Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Jenny Slate) which more often than not works in the poor screenplay's favor despite any glaringly apparent internal wincing from these brave (and hopefully well compensated) thespians' auras. But seriously, if Michelle Williams' character had been murdered this would be the exact same story, beat for beat, as Upgrade. Tom Hardy and Logan Marshall-Green could be siblings, and their respective body inhabitants' dialogue dynamics and physical effects are so close one could easily make the case for direct plagiarism. But I'm not going to argue the point because I'd rather talk about how Venom could easily pick up where Sam Raimi's Spiderman 3 left off had he excised his obligatory blight - the character Venom himself. This movie plays out like a mutated treatment for Spiderman 4, but thankfully Raimi jumped the shark in that last episode so Sony's CG effects team would have a full decade to crap out this. The film, much like the eponymous anti-hero, is a mixed bag of weird goo, trying to cram an otherwise carefree, Joe-schmoe character, Eddie Brock, into the body of a socially conscious journalist who doesn't have the foresight to separate his private life with his vocation. As a character he's totally likable, so when he does insanely stupid things (like destroy his professional career in one bumbling gaffe or end up in a top secret lab with an alien symbiote) it seems at odds with his otherwise street smart identity. This could easily be accounted for if he had made these brash decisions while under the influence of Venom not unlike Peter Parker's disco dance in Spiderman 3, but since all of these contrived situations have to occur to get to that point the whole thing seems pretty stupid. Raimi was fine with rolling with these contrivances and relished the moment for better or worse, so in that regard, Venom continues Raimi's trend of making tonally inconcise, yet nevertheless entertaining, spandex-man computer cartoons. If you want to see some incomprehensible garbage fly across the screen, there have been longer dumpster fires in the history of the genre than Venom.
I'm going to try my best in not using the word "fun" to describe my feelings toward this movie because that word is to be taken with a large grain of salt here. Due to the way I personally experienced this film, I would love to sugarcoat it and talk about the positives and mention why all of the negatives are really positives, but that would just be ignoring the film as a whole. Venom is the latest attempt at starting a Marvel franchise outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if this movie is any indication of what their plans are, then I'm afraid for this world to expand. That being said, at times, this movie is a blast to watch and I had a decent time at the theatre. I'm by no means calling this a good film, but here's why some viewers will probably find some enjoyment. Taking next to nothing from the source material, Venom follows Eddie Brock as he stumbles upon an alien life form known as a Symbiote. The company known as the Life Foundation has been running tests on these Symbiotes in hopes of merging them with a human. Once Eddie merges with the Symbiote known as Venom, chaos ensues and he begins to wreak havoc on the city, or face certain death if he doesn't cooperate. The fact that his life is in danger is literally the only glimpse at the true origin of this character. Quite honestly, the fact that they weren't able to use Spider-Man really took away from the depth that this film could've achieved. That aside, I chose to watch the movie as if it was an original film, with no comic origins to weigh it down. As a movie with absolutely no baggage, it creates some of its own by having a first act that relies far too heavily on the serious aspects of this foundation and not enough humour with the character of Eddie Brock. By the time Eddie becomes one with Venom, his sequences are very funny and easily staple themselves as the highlights of the film. From the dialogue to the set-up, this character was far better than the film that surrounded him. I found myself loving every whimsical second of the presence that either Eddie Brock or Venom provided. Their interaction with one another made me wish I had been watching a better movie with them in it. As far as the action goes, the second half of the film is loaded with it. When this film begins, it drags on quite a bit with a very mediocre premise, while also rushing through many story beats, making it quite the jumbled mess. If you're willing to be patient with a film in order to get to some awesome and even comedic sequences, then I would recommend Venom to you, based purely on entertainment. This is a film that would have benefitted from a teenage audience over a decade ago. The standard that has been set by many comic-based hero films these days are just too high for a film like this to match. In the end, Venom is a film that has a very strong, entertaining, and even hilarious central anti-hero. Its biggest flaw is the fact that every character is very standard and one-dimensional, and given that this film has a supporting cast in Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, that's quite upsetting. It has a decent score and the action is entertaining at times, but the story itself falls flat on its face. This movie would've benefitted from the true origin of its titular character, but the presence of that character is pretty awesome on-screen. Although the movie is very hollow, I would almost recommend this film for Tom Hardy's performance as Eddie Brock, because it was fantastic. Overall, Venom isn't a good film, but there are some terrifically entertaining moments.
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