‘Venom’ lives up to hype

Parker Otto

“Venom” may not be a juggernaut like Marvel’s previous films, but it is serviceable and entertaining. The film, released Oct. 5, delivers an interesting lead and fantastic action, but suffers from a bland villain. The film is the first in Sony’s Marvel Universe, which is meant to be connected to Tom Holland’s “Spider-Man” films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a photojournalist in San Francisco investigating the ironically-named Life Foundation and questionable experiments with alien symbiotes. When one of the symbiotes attaches to Eddie, it transforms him into the iconic anti-hero Venom. Together, they try to take down Foundation and prevent other symbiotes from dominating the world.

The best part of the film is Hardy’s performance. The actor is no stranger to comic adaptations after playing Bane in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” and he gives a memorable performance in this film as well. Hardy’s take on Venom easily beats Topher Grace’s forgettable version in 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” which concluded Sam Rami’s iconic Spider-Man trilogy. The character of Eddie is well established through a montage of interviews as a confident and charismatic journalist.

When Brock is infected with Venom, it feels like a Jekyll and Hyde relationship between man and symbiote.

Neither Venom nor Eddie outshines each other, and the audience gets to know and enjoy each personality. When Brock turns into Venom, the piercing white eyes and a tongue that would make Gene Simmons of the band Kiss jealous, it’s the stuff comic book dreams are made of.

The action sequences are very impressive in their set-up and their creativity. One of the best parts of the film occurs when Brock is attacked by mercenaries, resulting in an exhilarating motorcycle chase featuring exploding drones and adventurous stunts. The sequence ends with the reveal of Venom and he bites goons’ heads clean off and performs other ridiculous stunts. Director Ruben Fleischer did a wonderful job with this sequence, which is reminiscent of the Pacific Playland sequence in Fleischer’s 2009 film “Zombieland.”

One of the biggest letdowns of the film is the villain Riot. Seeing as Sony, the film’s distributor, owns the rights to many iconic Spider-Man villains, it would make sense to have someone like Green Goblin or Kraven the Hunter play the role, but instead, the villain is another symbiote who bonds with the head of The Life Foundation, played by Riz Ahmed. While Riot makes swords and axes out of himself, which is a neat visual, his motivation is rushed and he’s not intimidating. If the villain is weak, then the audience can’t identify with the hero and want to see him succeed. So when the epic battle between the two occurs, there’s not a lot of investment.

Venom is a very entertaining film that has a lot going for it. It may not be a game changer like Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War, but it is an okay film that will entertain, give some adrenaline inducing action and provide an interesting take on a popular character.