Venom Review: A Deeply Flawed, Ridiculously Fun Ride

★★

Venom is a flawed and over-the-top movie that is entertaining enough to justify its existence.

While investigating a dangerous experiment, Eddie Brock, a journalist, merges his body with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.

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Directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer, Venom is the first in a hopeful franchise of Spider-Man villains — without Spider-Man, mind you — that is hoping to become its own cinematic universe. Controversy and bad buzz have plagued this film’s release with its bad reviews, conflicting reports of its rating, and Tom Hardy stating that much of the film has been cut. Does it warrant this?

I wouldn’t necessarily say Venom is a bad movie. While it does have one of the worst scripts of any superhero movie recently, having dialogue so bad it’s hard not to cringe, it does generally have many good aspects that make the film balance out.

Fleischer’s direction is fine, with some nice visuals that never get in the way of what I think is the real strength of the film: Tom Hardy.

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It’s easy to argue whether Hardy’s performance is good or not, especially being a performance so over-the-top, but it worked for me. His charisma and dedication to the character can always be felt, and it maintains a certain energy to the whole picture that without him would probably be lacking. It’s ultimately the script’s horrible dialogue that sometimes fails him, but most of the time, he manages to come out on top. Michelle Williams and Rhiz Ahmed are also both great in their respective roles, although they suffer from some rushed character development, especially Ahmed’s character.

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Another point of contention is the tonal issues. It tries so hard to be taken seriously in so many scenes, while also trying to be a comedy in others, that it ultimately ends up feeling very unfocused as a result. Even in some serious scenes, Hardy seems to be so comedic in his performance that the tone becomes a real issue throughout the film. Thankfully, this is mostly a problem in the first act, since after that, the filmmakers seem to have leaned more on the silly side that works better for this film. Its following acts choose to not take themselves too seriously, which I think elevates it, letting you enjoy it for what it is and bask in the silliness of it all. While the third act does suffer from excessive CGI that seems very dated, it’s a minor problem that doesn’t seem to affect it in the whole picture.

In the end, it’s a very fast-paced, deeply-flawed action film that, if you manage expectations and know what you’re in for, is a lot of fun thanks to a strong performance by Tom Hardy.

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