‘Read the sign, no EFTPOS for under $5’. Picture: Sony Pictures via AP
‘Read the sign, no EFTPOS for under $5’. Picture: Sony Pictures via AP

MOVIE REVIEW: Venom is an antihero with no teeth

OK, WHAT the hell happened there?

Earlier this week, when Tom Hardy was asked about his favourite scene is in his new movie, Venom, he gave an uncharacteristically honest answer for a press tour.

He said it's not in the movie, rather that his favourite 40 minutes were cut. He later clarified this by giving some half-arsed walk-back about having improvised a lot of stuff and that if he could, he would watch a seven-hour version of Venom.

Well, thank god we don't have to watch a seven-hour version because the 95-minute one was more than enough.

A disjointed, tonally confused and mediocrely written action flick, the best thing Venom has going for it is that it's not a two-hours-plus affair, like most of its comic book compatriots.

OK, the relatively short run time and a pretty dope chase scene through San Francisco, which, face it, ever since Bullitt, every chase scene through San Francisco has been pretty dope. Those hills are made for wheels to fly over.

Venom is a spin-off from the current iteration of Spider-Man movies, though it is apparently not part of the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe despite its Peter Parker associations.

Thank god this mess won’t infect the MCU. Picture: Frank Masi/Sony Pictures via AP
Thank god this mess won’t infect the MCU. Picture: Frank Masi/Sony Pictures via AP

A less-mumbly Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist whose career hits the skids when he confronts a powerful tech billionaire, potential Elon Musk stand-in Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) with allegations of wrongful death in his medical experiments.

Dumped by his network and justifiably dumped by his fiancee Anne (Michelle Williams), Eddie is a bit of a loser, too meek to even ask his neighbour to turn down the music.

Drake has been experimenting with trying to bond alien organisms with human hosts in some ill-defined bid to save humanity by making us adaptable to space environments, or something like that, except it's told in a more pompous voice with a lot more words.

While investigating Drake, Eddie is accidentally bonded to one of these alien organisms and becomes Venom, a super strong, pointy-tongued and glistening-eyed creature.

Venom not only manifests physically, turning his viscousy form into formidable weapons and shields, he also dialogues with Eddie in his head so that the effect is he looks like a complete cray cray walking down the street.

Only actual teeth, no metaphorical teeth. Picture: Sony Pictures via AP
Only actual teeth, no metaphorical teeth. Picture: Sony Pictures via AP

In the comics, Venom is mostly a villain, a frequent foe of Spider-Man, but it seems like the movie doesn't want to take him down too dark a path - even though he just loves chomping down on human heads.

Let's call it the Deadpool syndrome. Director Ruben Fleischer (whose last movie Gangster Squad is more turdy than turd) and screenwriters Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel are aiming for a funny, irreverent antihero who's ultimately a heroic guy but isn't goody-two-shoes like Captain America.

That's a hard note to hit and by holding back too much - Venom really only dispatches bad people or anonymous guys in combat gear - it gives the character no (metaphorical) teeth, rendering him more boring than Cap.

There's also a good chunk of character development that must be in those missing 40 minutes because there are some leaps the movie takes towards the end that is very rushed.

Williams is totally wasted here though her wig is at least 12 per cent less distracting than the one she had in The Greatest Showman. Meanwhile Hardy comes out of it relatively unscathed, his twitchy energy just manically charming enough to forgive him his involvement.

There is a post-credits scene which sets up a sequel, but it would need to seriously course-correct to justify our attention again.

Venom never knows what kind of movie it wants to be, attempting jokes at the same time as its self-serious score thunders in the background. It's an epic identity crisis and it becomes epically tedious.

Rating: ★★

Venom is in cinemas from today.

Share your movies and TV obsessions with @wenleima on Twitter.


Shaving mo' of 33 years

Shaving mo' of 33 years

Local councillor will say goodbye to his moustache of 33 years.

Traffic incident hospitalises teen

Traffic incident hospitalises teen

Emerald traffic incident sees teenager transported to hospital.

Clermont cowboy in the ring

Clermont cowboy in the ring

Aaron Kleier has made the cut for next weekend's PBR grand final.

Local Partners