Venom15¦ 4K, Blu-ray, DVD
Saturation point. That’s pretty much where we’re at now with superhero flicks. Not that it looks like slowing down at any time soon. So, with so much out there, how do you go about standing out from the caped crowd?
With this latest marvel outing, the main hero is in fact, an anti-hero. And although his full villainous potential isn’t exactly realised here – it’s an origins tale after all – it does hint of badder things to possibly come.
When a space probe returns from its travels, its discovered by Life Foundations who sent it there, that it doesn’t come back empty handed. On board is a comet, and on that are samples of alien life, in the shape of symbiotic life forms.
When one of these symbiotes escapes, it causes the probe, with crew on board, to crash somewhere in East Malaysia.
Head of Life Foundations Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is keen to keep the symbiotes alive, believing they could serve a greater purpose. However, the only way to do that is to offer them hosts – humans - for them to co-exist with.
Meanwhile journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) discovers an email on his girlfriend Anne’s (Michelle Williams) computer, who is a lawyer, with some damning evidence on Drake. He confronts Drake with this evidence during an interview, but it doesn’t go well.
Brock soon finds himself without a job and girlfriend, but is keen to expose the truth regarding Drake. He gets the opportunity to do so, when he’s approached by one of Drake’s scientists, who manages to smuggle Brock into the facility so he can see for himself what he’s up to.
Once there, Brock comes face to face with one of the symbiotes, who gets quite attached to Brock – literally. And so Venom is born.
Although the creature Venom was created in another franchise – Spider-Man’s – this is very much a standalone origins affair. In fact it’s one of those rare times when an origins story is actually quite useful as the character isn’t the most prominent in the MCU.
Although the film was critically mauled upon release, Venom has a surprising amount going for it.
First of all, it it’s aimed at a slightly more mature audience, hence its 15 certificate. It’s no Deadpool, but it’s refreshing that it doesn’t pander to a younger market.
Director Ruben Fleischer does well with the pacing, and keeps the story lively from beginning to end. And although the special effects aren’t exactly breath-taking, he does well in bringing what is essentially a blob of goo alive.
Where it does excel however is with Hardy. To be honest, it’s just a relief that he’s coherent throughout, without having him rely on mumbling throughout. The key to the film however is the comedic interplay between himself and the animated Venom. It’s a fun re-imagination of Jekyll and Hyde, with a comedy duo relationship, à la Abbot and alien Costello.
The result is a brave attempt at pushing one of their darker characters to the fore, and allowing their story to play out to a slightly more grown up audience. And for that alone, it should be commended.
There’s a planned sequel that may well actually be worth looking forward too, as it could include the possible cross-over into a certain web slinger’s world.
Die hard Marvellists may feel compelled to pooh-pooh it, for no real apparent reason, but for the more casual audience, who don’t necessarily live and die by the Marvel glowing sword, the highly entertaining Venom could be a real grower.