Tom Hardy has a special kind of charisma that compliments his aesthetic and makes him all the more attractive, even when bonded with a parasite that turns him into a terrifying, monstrous, alien thing named Venom.
Venom follows hot-shot reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who after asking some very pointed questions of the crooked, famous, wealthy and incredibly powerful scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), ends up losing everything. Everything, that is, except for his motorbike. Somewhat unsurprisingly, that he gets to keep.
Drake flies in some symbiotes – an elaborate term for ‘aliens’ – from outer space because he has his own rocket ships and so he can. These symbiotes are only able to survive on planet Earth if they bond with a human host, but as with an organ transplant, the host can reject the symbiote, resulting in consequent death.
After a short, unconvincing pitch given by the head scientist at Drake’s company as to the horrors taking place in the labs, Eddie takes it upon himself to do some investigative journalism and uncover the truth. During his first hour back on the job, he is witness to some real madness and ends up unintentionally bonding with a symbiote of his own. This symbiote is named Venom (obviously) and helps Eddie out of every single sticky situation that comes his way after that.
The character development is palpable throughout the film as we see Eddie fall from grace, hit rock-bottom and then find his way back to a place somewhere in the middle, bonding with his alien parasite along the way. Though we begin with an utter dislike for Venom and his alien behaviours, director Ruben Fleischer cleverly manoeuvres the symbiote into a more favourable light, one that has the audience as attached to him as they are to Eddie by the end of the film.
The CGI had major room for improvement during some scenes in Venom, but this notable lack is definitely made up for towards the end, where we get to see some pretty epic symbiote-human reshaping. The fight scenes are plentiful throughout but they often move too quickly, making it hard for our measly human eyes to follow.
Brought to the screen by a compilation of eight different writers, Venom is riddled with humour that takes away from the darker tone of the anti-hero theme and fills the film instead with conflict resolution and comic relief. Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), Eddie’s ex-fiancé, feels more like a token damsel than a strong female lead, despite efforts made by the writers to present her as the latter.
I’d set a pretty low bar for Venom because despite being an avid Marvel film lover, I’m not one for anti-heroes nor creepy aliens with long tongues. However, the film thoroughly exceeded my expectations (I’m sorry Marvel, I never should’ve doubted you!), brimming with cool CGI, humorous character development, intense fight scenes and plenty of those Marvel quips that we know and love.
The filmmakers cite the films of horror directors John Carpenter and David Cronenberg as an influence on the film, as well as the horror-comedy films An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Ghostbusters (1984).