Shrouded by rumours of production difficulties and creative differences in the cutting room, Ruben Fleischer’s iteration of Venom hit cinemas this week with the almost universally preconceived – perhaps unfair – notion that it was probably going to be very (very) bad.
And Phil thought exactly the same thing, awarding the film a humiliating 1/5 and referring to it as “an appalling trainwreck… a bad idea, executed poorly in an attempt to make a quick buck.” All in all, a fairly damning review.
But can Venom offer up any saving graces that could warrant a death-row reprieve? We asked the team to weigh in.
Katy – 3/5
Venom suffers from the same problems many modern superhero/action movies have: it’s overly long, the villain is underwritten (Riz Ahmed deserves far more than what he’s given), and too often it all devolves into a big CGI scrap. However, there’s a lot to be enjoyed here. Eddie Brock is a surprisingly likeable protagonist – and while Tom Hardy’s antics may not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s great to see him in such an overtly comedic role again. If the weirdly endearing double act of Venom and Eddie can grab you as it grabbed me, you’re in for a whale of a time.
Rory – 2/5
Venom has exactly one thing to offer, and that is the weird buddy dynamic between Hardy and Hardy. At various times, Eddie and Venom are each other’s enemy, friend, prisoner, bodyguard, pet, master, confidant, and sort-of lover. It’s stupid and bizarre in a wonderful way. Sadly, the rest of the movie is grey mush. Even Riz Ahmed as not-Elon-Musk is a bland copy of the real-life version. At least the dull bits tend not to go on too long before we cut back to the man-and-his-parasite comedy-drama this movie should have been.
Jack – 1/5
Surprising no one, Venom is terrible. Dialogue switches between bland exposition and stupid nonsense, and however much fun Tom Hardy is having is offset by the horrible wastes of Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams. Character motivations switch on a dime and everyone’s constantly making decisions with no human logic. Action scenes have been lifted straight out a 2004 superhero movie, and the climactic showdown of black tentacle monster vs. dark grey tentacle monster (at night) is utterly incomprehensible, a mess of CGI sludge and clunking repetitiveness. Anyway, it will make hundreds of millions of dollars because the world is poison.
David – 2/5
Venom is an unwanted time traveller. Transporting itself from the mid-2000s where no one was quite sure how you make superhero movies, Venom is an archaic, maddening and unwarranted tribute to this era. Tom Hardy is strangely unengaging with a performance fit for 1994’s The Mask, while Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate are frustratingly misused, their talents wasted throughout even this overlong runtime. There are occasional laughs, but it often feels as though you’re laughing at the movie rather than with it. I root for a film that’s had a nightmarish production, but sadly, my pompoms are inactive for Venom.
Naze – 3/5
It’s really unclear what everyone is finding so insulting about Venom. Pushing aside the slightly patchy first act, Venom is fast-paced, entertaining, and honestly the best and most unhinged performance Hardy has given in years. OK, so there might be a few plot holes. But as long as you don’t get too bogged down in the detail, you’re sure to find a lot of joy in the blossoming friendship between Eddie Brock and his parasite. The worst thing about this film? The bizarre casting of Michelle Williams, whose saccharine scenes should absolutely have been the ones to end up on the cutting room floor.
Carmen – 3/5
No one does weird like Tom Hardy; watching him have a grand old time in Venom makes the film’s thin plot, low stakes, and mediocre script entertaining as hell. Eddie and Venom’s tumultuous relationship and well-timed banter – almost a buddy-cop dynamic – are delightful and hilarious, though possibly not intentionally. Unfortunately, the big bad is such an underdeveloped Elon Musk knock-off that not even Riz Ahmed can make him a real threat. Michelle Williams as the ex and Jenny Slate as the scientist with second thoughts are similarly underused. Pacing also proves an issue: until Venom and Eddie unite, the film is pure, dry exposition.