Connected to the Spider-Man part of the Marvel Comic universe (fans may remember the character as played by Topher Grace in 2007’s Spider-Man 3), Venom is actually some black alien goo that is transported to Earth and ends up merging with journalist Eddie Brock to create a hybrid (or symbiote as it’s known in the movie) that’s sometimes a bad guy (especially as he likes munching on humans) and occasionally a vigilante who reluctantly saves the day.
This flimsily plotted adventure is an origin story of sorts, as we first meet Eddie (Hardy) when life is good – he’s engaged to lawyer Anne (Williams) and has a good job as an investigative journalist. His determination to prove that billionaire businessman Carlton Drake (Ahmed) is crooked is Eddie’s undoing, however, and he soon finds himself without a job, or a fiancée. And, when he sneaks into Drake’s laboratory and discovers what is really going on – Drake is trying to combine alien organisms with live human ‘volunteers’ to create people who can live on other planets – things get even worse. Yes, the black stuff gets into Eddie’s system and he’s soon hearing the voice of alien Venom in his head and discovering his super-strength, extendable arms, and taste for raw flesh.
Like Deadpool, Venom is one of the darker (and therefore, more interesting) characters in the Marvel universe, but his first eponymous movie doesn’t do him justice. While Venom’s jagged teeth and amphibian eyes (not to mention his stabbing arms) are enough to earn the movie a 15 certificate in the UK, it’s nowhere near as explicit as the Deadpool movies that received the same rating, and actually feels too tame. Sure, Venom does eat the top off a couple of human heads and skewer a few people but the movie would have worked far better if he’d have been a meaner, creepier, 18 certificate protagonist rather than this milder version. And it would have given the always watchable Tom Hardy something grittier to work with, too.
It doesn’t help the action that Venom doesn’t have a worthy foe in the movie, either. Spider-Man is woefully absent and instead we are left with Drake, whose motivation seems to be greed and whose rather daft plan is to make symbiotes who will buy his real estate in outer space (ooo, maybe he can get Donald Trump’s Space Force to police it).
There are a few decent action sequences including a fun chase through San Francisco (though a later symbiote v symbiote fight looks like two oil slicks merging and is just as tedious) but the highlight of this film – and the reason to give it a chance – is Hardy.
In an interview, the actor said his favourite 40 minutes of the movie didn’t make it into the finished version, and if they were like the scenes in which he performs a double act between Brock and the Venom voice in his head, we’ve been deprived of a treat. They are the movie’s funniest, sharpest, best bits by far, and one can only hope that if Venom gets a sequel (featuring, we can guess, Woody Harrelson as Carnage, as he pops up in the first of 2 post credit scenes) there will be much more of the Brock/Venom split personality moments to come.
Is Venom suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
**This is a 15 certificate in the UK, and PG-13 in the US due to some scenes of threat and violence, and strong language.**
The movie will be too scary for younger (under 11s) children.
Parents should note that Venom is very frightening in appearance. (see photo above)
Scenes that may disturb viewers include:
The alien organism taking over a human’s body, breaking their bones from the inside and killing them. Other human victims are seen, already dead, with the organism near them.
Scenes in which the organism takes over a body and attacks people, spearing them in graphic detail. Some blood is shown.
Animals appear to be eaten in the movie.
Scenes in which the Venom starts eating a live person’s head.
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