This is what a series of bad decisions stretched out over a very long development history looks like. Venom wants to be a darkly comedic body-horror and a compelling anti-hero comic book caper. It also tries to shock life back into Sony’s sub-Marvel mini-verse, which seemingly died along with the Amazing Spider-Man films. It only succeeds in being a supremely average film that mostly frustrates and baffles rather than thrills.
Some may find Tom Hardy’s performance charming, which it is in places. But it centres on his struggling with a super powerful alien that’s taking over his body, which sees him verbally arguing with it and all. That sort of thing has been done much better, many times – most recently with Upgrade. I actually liked Riz Ahmed ‘s take on Elon Musk as the best performance, even if he did phone it in.
The horde of poor filmmaking choices could be forgiven if it at least delivered on the action, but it sure as shit does not. Every moment of action is created in a computer and most of it is surprisingly awful, fake-looking garbage. There’s also no blood spilt on-screen, despite a large amount of beheadings and dismemberments carried out.
Although director Ruben Fleischer is tonally all over the place, I like how all-in he goes with the ridiculousness. He’s made something shit, but at least he’s gone full bonkers with that shit – the climactic fight scene is between two entirely CGI-created alien demon things leaping about on a rocket ship. In other movies, someone might’ve tried to intervene and patch something with less nonsense in, which would’ve created an even less interesting hodgepodge of shit.
There are a few nice laughs to be had both with and at Venom. It’s a silly, cartoonish misfire that’s bloody hard to enjoy, but somehow also hard to hate.