Venom - This New Spidey-Verse Starting Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Ruben Fleischer
Syarring Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate, Michelle Lee
It remains a constant that no one can make these movies like Marvel Studios do. Why is that? Everyone wants to, and yet just about all fail. DC have tried many times and all (bar the anomaly that is Wonder Woman) have fallen by the wayside. Now Sony are ploughing on with their (on the strength of this) misguided attempt to launch their own Spider-Man-infused micro Marvel-verse, simply because years back they bought up some character copyrights when Marvel comics were poorly (i.e. life before Feige.) They wisely more or less handed Spidey back to Marvel Studios, and Feige’s crew got it more than right on Homecoming.
Buoyed by this, Sony have once again decided to go it alone (don’t have to split the box office that way – that’s the single motivating factor here.) And on the strength of the long discussed Venom – Jesus, they shouldn’t have!
This is a movie that feels out of time – from Hardy doing some weird Pallookaville characterisation that could be his take on early Brando – or him just being a dick – to the movie’s extremely weak scrip and execution, this is almost like an attempt at a superhero movie from ten or even twenty years ago. It’s almost as if all the work Marvel have done to legitimise the comic book movie since the first Iron Man has been ignored here. The template instead is closer to Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four; hell, even Josh Tranks’ Fantastic Four, which may be worse.
So Hardy is reporter Eddie Brock, who acts and feels like he’d rather be a supporting player in a 1940s potboiler (you almost suspect the producers had to restrain him from wearing a hat with a card saying “Press” sticking out of it.) He’s investigating Ahmed’s Elon Musk-alike billionaire space explorer type, who’s brought something nasty back from out there. Said “symbiote” bonds with Hardy – cue mayhem, attempts at comedy and some of the lamest action sequences staged in many a year. The whole thing just underwhelms when “over” should be the object.
Venom himself is well realised visually – but the buddy movie banter tends to fall flat. Ahmed is wasted, Michelle Williams is really wasted – but hopefully this covers their mortgage payments for awhile. (Even the usually delightful appearance of Stan Lee irks.)
It would be easy to blame the film’s multiple failures on the fact that it was once proposed to be an R but was cut to accommodate a PG (much like The Meg, recently.) But to be honest there’s very little indication from what remains that this was ever on the right course to begin with. Sony came, they saw, they really didn’t conquer.
Yes, it will open big at the BO – but hopefully word of mouth will kill the whole thing before Woody Harrelson is forced to reprise his mid-credits cameo as Carnage in the proposed sequel. (Probably not.)
Note to Sony – hand it all back to the people who know how to handle these properties. Yes, you’ll take a hit, but you know it’s the right thing to do. At present, all you’re doing is engendering ill will – and running the risk of killing off a whole genre.
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