[Review] Venom

The newest Marvel flick to come on the big screen sees Tom Hardy as the headlining anti-hero called Venom. So how does Marvel’s newest superhero fare compared to the usual gang at Avengers?

The main plot of Venom involves a group of aliens that find themselves crashed on planet earth, and their only reason for being here is to dominate their host planet by destroying – actually, eating – its current inhabitants (aka human beings). However, not all is as it seems; apparently one alien is a actually on the humans’ side.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably watched Predator (the 2018 version). But, back to Venom…

It’s fair to say that the movie is built on Tom Hardy who plays the role of Eddie Brock, a hotshot reporter who loves to poke his nose in places he’s not supposed to. Unfortunately, his last assignment gets him into trouble with the Life Foundation, run by techno billionaire Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed of Star Wars’ Rogue One). In just one day, he loses his job and his fiancée, and his life sort of spirals out of control.

Salvation is at hand though, once he inadvertently becomes a human host for the alien known as Venom. From hereon, the pace of the story really picks up – cue cheesy armed goons who are tasked with bringing him back to Drake. The action is decent enough, but what makes it enjoyable – even funny – is Hardy himself, who sort of narrates the entire movie from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know what’s going on.

The story contains a lot of predicable ingredients – a rich technopreneur with no morals, an evil alien who’s stronger than the good alien, and an anti-hero who is willing to sacrifice his life to save the world. Then there’s the all-important final fight between Venom and Riot – the alien boss who’s tasked with bringing more of their kind to earth. It all seems like a time-honoured formula that’s easy to understand.

Except it’s not that easy to understand. For one, the relationship between Brock and his fiancee Anne (Michelle Williams) seems very strong in the beginning of the story, but she simply breaks off their engagement when Brock gets her fired from her job. Then there’s the issue with Venom himself – an alien from another planet, it doesn’t take him long to turn from evil conqueror to ally of the human race.

However, what makes the movie enjoyable is the strong performance from Hardy – the other actors don’t seem to make any impact to the story; Ahmed’s Drake seems miscast as the ‘bad guy’, and Williams’ Anne doesn’t seem to have a ‘connection’ with Brock. It’s Hardy, whose character is perpetually looking a bit ill, who manages to make Venom look convincing as an alien parasite (he also voices Venom).

Venom may be a superhero action movie, but it’s also surprisingly funny – not in a Deadpool kind of way, but much of the humour comes from Hardy, who seems to be perpetually surprised that his alien parasite is such a badass.