Venom: Sony Pictures’ Latest Disaster


Image Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Koby Haldorson, Staff Writer

Venom had numerous chances to succeed; incredible cast, inspiration from great comic book storylines, the grittier tone it appeared to be running with, even the dissociation from Spider-Man. But it also stumbled at every chance it got. Certain parts were incredible, whilst other parts felt like they crafted by people that only read a Wikipedia summary of the character.

By now, it’s fairly clear Sony has no idea what they’re doing with the Spider-Man characters they have the rights to. Going into Venom, I wanted it to be good, great even. I really did. But leaving Venom, I felt strangely about the film. In ways, I hated it, but in other ways, I actually somewhat liked it.

One of Sony’s worst decisions was taking Venom, which should’ve been a grittier anti-hero action flick that held a single darker tone for its two hour and twenty minute run-time, and handing it to a director known for making terrible comedies. Ruben Fleischer, who in his career, has only made one critically and commercially loved film: Zombieland. The rest of his portfolio consists of unknown films, or very bad well-known ones.

The film suffers from tonal inconsistency. The first half of the movie is not only boring, but also a bit more of a lighthearted superhero romp, whereas the second half feels like a slightly grittier action flick, with a few drops of comedy sprinkled in so the movie doesn’t weigh too much on the audience. The film essentially switches genres entirely after the halfway mark.  


The film overall feels like a product of Sony’s tried-and-failed “Spider-Man Cinematic Universe”, with Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man at the helm. Tonally, Venom feels right at home in that subpar film universe, and he feels like the version of Venom that Garfield’s Spider-Man would’ve fought, had Sony gotten that far.

My favorite part of the film, at least visually, has to be the opening. Yes, the literal first five minutes of the film. It opens on a shot of stars and galaxies in outer space, and slowly focuses on a man-made spacecraft coming towards the camera as an ominous and foreboding score plays in the background.

The cast was something I particularly enjoyed. Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed each play a main character, and whilst the quality of their performances varies wildly from scene to scene, they all fit their roles quite well. Their performances were a mixed bag. Some scenes were phenomenally well acted, but a very large portion of the character-intensive scenes felt like they had enlisted actors who’d just gotten off the bus to Hollywood.

Leading man Tom Hardy felt right as Eddie Brock and Venom, but his performance as the famed Spider-Man villain left a small variety of things to be desired. I didn’t hate him as the character, but I don’t think he did a fantastic job, especially when compared to his roles in movies like Mad Max: Fury Road or The Dark Knight Rises.

Something I feel needs to be stated more clearly is the film’s MPAA rating. Initially, Venom’s director, Ruben Fleischer had fans believing that Venom would be rated R, and that we’d be getting a gritty, dramatic, violent anti-hero film.

Instead, Sony got involved, and we received a watered-down PG-13 version. Leading man Tom Hardy recently said that all of his favorite parts, which were the super R-rated parts, were removed from the final cut of the movie before the release.

The trailers paint the movie in a much different way than the film itself is. The film shifts from dark and gritty, to lighthearted romp, back to gritty, then to comedy, then back over to gritty again. Tonally, Venom is a mess, an absolute abomination of a film.

It feels disjointed, which makes sense when you remember that large portions of it were likely removed. It’s not all bad, however. Venom’s plot stays fairly consistent, focusing on several key plot points and not often straying too far from them. Occasionally, it’ll start to wander, but it quickly works its way back.

Some characters are only there to advance the plot of the film. One example is Jenny Slate’s character, who is very forgettable, is in the film quite a bit, but in the middle of the movie, for literally no reason at all, she’s killed off in an off-screen death, which makes you question why she was even there to begin with.

Do I despise Venom? No, but I certainly don’t ignore it’s many flaws. It’s a tonal mess, it drags at points, the comedic parts get laughs for the wrong reasons, it’s full of pointless sequel set-ups and plot threads that lead nowhere, and what might have been its best parts were ripped out to score a PG-13 rating. But in some strange, roundabout way, I actually kind of adore the film. Like many other films, Venom is so bad, it’s good. If you want an incredible action movie and a fun experience, then totally, go see it in theaters. Otherwise, you’ll be just fine waiting for the home release, or until it hits network television where you can watch it for free.