Monday, 14 January 2019

Venom ★★★★☆

Venom is the latest film in the Marvel Universe, although this time around he’s got nothing to do with Spiderman. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a journalist for the people – he uncovers lies and goes out of his way to help those disadvantaged by the people at the top. His desire for justice gets the better of him when he interviews Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), CEO of ‘Life Corporation’ – a man whose goal is to advance humanity, though at a cost. His idea is to merge humans with so-called ‘symbiotes’, alien life forms and is doing extensive, harmful testing on people. However, Brock has no proof.

Brock’s accusations lead him to lose his career, his home, and his fianceé, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) who also loses her job in the process and decides it’s best for them to distance themselves. Once Brock starts looking into Drake again is when he finally ‘meets’ Venom, and once the two have merged, things become very different. 

You’re looking at a pretty standard plot here, rather than the complex, multi-faceted stories that Marvel have brought out as of late. With it pretty much being the people vs. the corporation with one main villain, Drake. There’s no complicated history to get your head around and no mind-boggling twists, but rather a fairly linear plot that starts off with about 30 minutes of backstory before speeding headfirst into unrelenting and fast-paced action that just doesn’t give in. It’s frantic, energetic, and full of chases and fights that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Usually, I lean towards films that are more for the thinkers of the audience, but the action here was so well done that I rather enjoyed it.

What helped was that everything else was done simplistically, but well. The CGI was excellent, in particular for Venom and, although most of the performances didn’t exceed expectations, acting was good and Hardy really got into the role of Brock/Venom, which was evident during some particularly weird and memorable scenes. The humour was good, although sometimes a bit tame, and was balanced well with the action. There wasn’t a whole lot of emotion in the film – the relationship ending was sad of course and we were obviously rooting for humanity – but actually, that made a nice change from other films I’ve watched recently that ended with either fought-back tears or too much investment from my whirlwind mind.

After watching the film, I was quite shocked when I had a look online to see what the critics had said… “rushed”, “absolute disappointment”, “riddled with the poison of dullness”, to name a few. From my perspective, I’d spent two hours of fun watching a movie to come away feeling energised and like I’d had a good time. Which made me consider something… As an audience, are we perhaps being a little bit too binary in our opinions of superhero movies (and other genres)? Since films like ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ have come out our concept of cinema seems to have changed – if it isn’t two and a half hours of breath-taking CGI, phenomenal acting, and a fully engrossing plot riddled with complexities and room for fan theories then it just isn’t good. I think we’ve set the bar too high, meaning simple yet entertaining movies such as this one get scathing reviews online and people just seem to miss the point.

If you need the next ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in your life and won’t settle for anything less, then no, maybe ‘Venom’ isn’t for you. But if you like action, comedy, and something that’s a bit easier to digest, then it’s definitely worth watching. 

Hannah Read

Venom at CeX

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