Film review: Venom

These days you can split the Marvel super-hero flicks into two camps: the films made by Disney (who own Marvel Comics), and the films made by Sony.  Sony has made a nice little niche for itself by snapping up franchises for the movies that are much less family friendly: the likes of our old friend Deadpool, and now, Venom.

The film follows Eddie Brock, ably played by the infinitely versatile (if you don’t mind the mumbling) Tom Hardy. Brock is a down-on-his-luck and somewhat self-centred journalist who, by way of crashed spaceships, mad scientists and poor security at airports, finds himself bonded to an alien parasite/symbiote that grants him superhuman powers. Now, the alien itself seems to get tetchy when you tell it it’s a parasite, but since it starts feeding on its host’s organs if not regular supplied with live prey, then I’m sure it’s a lot closer to a parasite than a symbiote – though should I ever encounter one I’ll probably keep my opinions to myself.

Though they keep the gore to an absolute minimum (it’s suggested rather than shown), the film still manages to deliver on the stomach queeze without stepping outside its ’15’ rating. Have to say: good job; sometimes the suggestion is scarier than the visual, especially when you know its coming.

The plot isn’t much to write home about: everything you think is going to happen, will pretty much happen, but that doesn’t stop it from being an immensely enjoyable film with the right balance of pacey-action, loud crashes, incredible stunts, believable CGI, and, most importantly, tongue-in-cheek humour that makes the whole genre bearable for normal people. Hardy is great in the role, and his relationship with the symbiote (that at one point calls him a pussy for refusing to jump out of a high-rise window) is funny, and strangely touching when you realise that they’re not so different: they’re a pair of no-hopers who see in each other the chance to transcend their enormous lack of scruples and talent.

Venom isn’t your run-of-the-mill superhero: he will rescue a little girl’s kitten from a tree, but he’s more likely to eat it rather than give it back, and I think as long as you know what you’re getting, it makes a refreshing change from the whiter-than-white Supermans and Captain Americas.

I imagine that the true-believers will balk at the back story, asking why no one explains the Symbiote looking so much like a darker version of Spider-Man. Well, Sony could have  gone with the real comic book origin (Spider-Man, The Beyonder), but that would have taken a movie six times longer and eight times more costly than the Infinity War, so …

Anyway, I’m giving it eight out of ten. Well, worth seeing.

Oh, and it’s worth staying for all the way through the end credits: there’s a preview for a new feature-length Spider-Man cartoon.

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