Sony’s Venom opened this weekend to a swath of negative reviews – here are some of most damning ones (and a few happily positive). Venom is the first film in Sony’s Spider-Man villain cinematic universe, with plans to develop a swath of projects focused on the many colorful villains and collaborators that populate Peter Parker’s world. And, with Tom Hardy signed on for three films as Eddie Brock and a post-credits sequence hinting at a high-stakes sequel, it was clear that the studio has high expectations for this film.
Early buzz had not been strong, particularly after Hardy gave an interview where he lamented that his favorite 40 minutes of the film had been left on the cutting room floor (he would later clarify those comments this was improv and not scenes). Fans were also disappointed that the film was given a PG-13 rating, something director Ruben Fleischer claimed was the plan from the beginning, even thought it contradicts comments given in earlier interviews. Add to that a late review embargo and fans would be forgiven for being cynical about the movie’s fortunes.
Related: How Much Did Venom Cost To Make?
Sadly, the reviews have not been encouraging. Currently, Venom has a Metacritic score of 33 and is sitting at around the 30% line on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews have cited the same problems with the film: tonal inconsistencies, a sanitized approach to the material in order to adhere to a PG-13 rating, and a distinct lack of Spider-Man. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most scathing Venom reviews.
“Venom” is the kind of comic-book movie that people who hate comic-book movies think that all comic-book movies are like. Leaping from plot point to plot point without the hindrance of logic or characters, this big-screen return of the legendary Spider-Man nemesis — last seen in the franchise-hobbling “Spider-Man 3” — is aggressively loud and stupid without being much fun at all. It exists as a waste of time (although, one hopes, a sizable payday) for some very talented actors, and it’s proof that even Marvel (whether it’s the studio or other films based on its imprint) doesn’t always get it right.
The supposedly massive final showdown is so anticlimactic and pointless that it was only when it was followed by Hardy ruminatively sipping coffee on a stoop and chatting that I realised… that was it. That was the big finish. Hardy himself has said that the film’s best 30-40 minutes have been cut. At least that makes this shorter than it would otherwise be.
There are flashes of a different kind of Venom, one that vacillates between ego and id, offering clarifying commentary in between rampages, which could have been an interesting foil to Hardy. Instead, he’s just a parasitic alien with a badass ’tude who helps Eddie save the world from a poorly conceived global threat. That might be what The People want, but after two hours of misshaped plotting edited with assistance of a butcher knife, they might just crave those cut scenes of Hardy weirdness that Venom desperately tries to restrain.
Sony Pictures appear to have lavished a nine-figure sum on, and are now hoping to establish an entire cinematic universe on the back of, a character who looks like someone drizzled Creme Egg filling onto a bin bag.
The script (by three credited writers) plays out like a Marvel movie that might have been made in 1996, with no nuance, little character development, and a clunky, on-the-nose style of advancing its plot that seems hopelessly juvenile and antiquated… The scenes in which Eddie and Venom (as the symbiote inexplicably comes to call itself) banter back and forth do have their amusing moments (along with some cringe-worthy dialogue), and it probably would have helped if the movie embraced the humor in this full-on, sort of in the style of Deadpool… It’s like someone crashing a cymbal next to your left ear while someone else is pounding on a piano in your right.
The best description of Venom as a movie is provided by a quote from the titular antihero itself: “An armless, legless, faceless thing… rolling down the street like a turd in the wind.” […] Tom Hardy does his best to elevate a tonally confused script, but Venom will leave you begging for an antidote.
That’s why it’s disappointing to see Sony’s nascent, fumbling attempt at a Spider-Man without Spider-Man universe stumble through so much superhero-move detritus: perfunctory side characters (especially the women); the ultimate villain that’s essentially a supersized version of the hero; the fact that Venom becomes a de facto hero almost immediately; and, of course, a dopey mid-credits teaser presuming automatic interest in other characters who have interacted with Venom in the comics. The filmmakers seem faintly aware that not all comic book characters are superheroes, but unsure of what else Venom could actually be. In other words: It’s Venom! What else do you rubes want?
An idea is like a virus, they say. It’s resilient, highly contagious, and even the smallest seed of an idea can grow, and grow to define or destroy you. In Sony’s not-really-anti, anti-superhero movie about an extraterrestrial intestinal worm, an incredibly ill-advised idea takes hold and is seen through to the bitter, ridiculous end: the parasite is Venom, a protozoa alien that infect and overwhelms its unsuspecting human host victim, and like the biotoxin germs that leave the protagonist gravely unwell, the all-consumingly cartoonish concepts in “Venom” are regrettably defining, self-immolating and gag-reflexively misjudged.
Fortunately for Venom, it’s not all bad news. Plenty of critics also liked the film, finding it entertaining and praising Tom Hardy’s committed physical performance as Eddie Brock/Venom.
The first act of Venom suggests we’re in for one of the worst films of 2018. Not in a fun way, mind you, but in that dull, dispiriting way where the lack of effort starts to feel like disrespect. Then Venom gets his man and a movie that initially seemed just-plain-bad becomes so-bad-it’s-good. Or maybe it’s just plain good. It’s been a full day since I’ve seen it, and honestly, I’m still not sure. Either way, I laughed a lot.
As much a body-horror thriller as it is a comic-book movie, “Venom” is also akin to a buddy comedy in which one of the buddies has to prevent the other from wantonly biting people’s heads off. If that sounds ridiculous, it is — but “Venom” both knows it and leans into it, playing up the dark humor until it’s pitch black. Not all of Eddie and Venom’s exchanges land as intended, but those that do are genuinely funny; over time, their relationship even becomes endearing in its own way, which comes as such a pleasant surprise it’s almost enough to recommend the movie on its own.
What saves Venom is Venom. And Brock. Meaning Hardy, who here exhibits a knack for physical comedy that anyone unfortunate enough to see McG’s This Means War could hardly credit. Throwing himself, literally, into the action, he also unleashes a series of yip, yowls and yelps that put Tom Cruise’s Mummy memes to shame. It’s a jerky, whiplash-inducing ride to get there, but come the final act, Venom and Brock have found the perfect symbiosis, and the movie’s found its tone.
Once the pair are bonded, their life together becomes something of a one-man buddy comedy — and a delightful one. They’re a lovely mismatch: Eddie the cerebral pacifist and Venom the bloodthirsty marauder… As is the opposites-attract vibe of his dual performance, in general. Much of the picture falls flat, but the Eddie/Venom dynamic is aces and lives up to the Zombieland legacy. Barring any Billionaire Boys Club–level flopping, a Venom sequel is inevitable. As long as Hardy and Hardy are back, I’ll shell out a few bucks to see it. I can always use a giggle or two.
Screen Rant’s own Molly Freeman gave the film three stars:
As a whole, then, Venom is so-bad-it’s-good in a way that seems to already assure its status as a future “cult” favorite (insofar as a mainstream movie can be a cult favorite). Whether that will be good enough for Sony to continue on with their Spider-Man spinoff franchise remains to be seen, but Venom is undoubtedly good enough to be an entertaining time at the theater.
Have you seen Venom? Do the bad reviews discourage you or are you going to the cinema regardless? Let us know in the comments.
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