The first batch of Venom reviews are now online. One of the most talked-about movies of the year is undoubtedly Sony Pictures' Venom, which is directed by Zombieland and Gangster Squad helmer Ruben Fleischer and stars Tom Hardy as the titular character, Eddie Brock. It's a passion project that the studio has been trying to get off the ground for several years now, but it wasn't until late last year that it finally moved into production.
Going up against critical darling A Star Is Born at the domestic box office, Venom is looking to attract the attention of fans of the source material (and character) as well as general audiences who are interested in seeing a different type of comic book movie, one that doesn't place its focus on superheroes, per se. Instead, the film follows a journalist who becomes an anti-hero after transforming into the Venom by coming into contact with an alien symbiote. While Venom is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall, the question on everyone's mind is, is it good?
Sony Pictures has now lifted the embargo for Venom ahead of the movie's worldwide debut this Friday (or Thursday, for select showings), and the first reviews are now starting to flood online. Below are SPOILER-FREE excerpts along with links back to the respective full reviews.
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant - 3/5
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.
Todd McCarthy, THR - No score
The only startling moment in the thoroughly irredeemable Venom that makes you sit up and take notice comes at the 71-minute mark, when the sight of a disheveled, stubbly, sweaty and bloated Tom Hardy jolts you with the realization that here is the perfect actor to one day play Harvey Weinstein. For that insight and that insight alone, this film is valuable. Notwithstanding the guaranteed profits stemming from any film with the Marvel brand attached to it, those involved should reflect upon the truth of the film's advertising tagline: “The world has enough Superheroes.”
Michael Nordine, IndieWire - B
The world may have enough superheroes, but it doesn’t have enough good movies about them. “Venom” goes a small way toward changing that, even though it’s technically about a supervillain — or, if we’re being generous, an antihero. News that the fan-favorite Spider-Man antagonist was receiving a standalone film of his own starring Tom Hardy was greeted warmly by those who harbor a childhood fondness for the character despite being generally indifferent toward comic books and who have yet to grow weary of Hardy’s incoherent mumbling (read: this writer), but uncertainty abounds with these enterprises. For every “Deadpool,” there’s at least one “Fantastic Four.”
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap - No score
If you replaced Tom Hardy for Steve Martin in “All of Me,” and switched out Lily Tomlin for a wad of chewed-up black licorice, you’d have “Venom.” The difference being that “All of Me” is a charming screwball comedy, and “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 doesn’t always get it right.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety - No score
In “Venom,” the spectacular but mostly derivative and generically plotted new comic-book origin story (it’s the first installment of the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters), Tom Hardy is afflicted with an otherworldly force that invades his mind, his body, his very being. It’s called the desire to act like a stumblebum Method goof. The symptoms, which are highly visible and dramatic, range from a propensity for bug-eyed staring to a tendency to swallow each line with a kind of renegade doofus mumble, in a way that leaves Hardy sounding like a cross between early Marlon Brando and late Adam Sandler.
Matt Patches, Polygon - No score
There are two movies inside Venom, and they spend 100 minutes battling over a theoretical franchise-starter’s soul. There’s a big, clunky comic-book movie, in which a reluctant hero embraces and wields newfound powers to save the world, and clutching that by-the-books blockbuster by the throat is a bloodthirsty, symbiote romp spearheaded by star Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), who sinks his teeth into the picture with tour-de-force comedic performance.
Peri Nemiroff, Collider - C
Venom almost gets away with its nonsensical plot in the end thanks to that Eddie and Venom bromance, but then you’re reminded of the major missed opportunity here – more than once, actually. Venom should have been a quality start to Sony’s own Marvel franchise. This, however, is a film that doesn’t earn it and the multiple reminders from the studio saying, “Hey, don’t forget we want to make more of these,” only makes it worse. Perhaps its box office will determine the future of this franchise, but from a quality perspective, Venom won’t give Sony a solid base to build on.
Based on several of the early reviews (some of which tend to fall in line with the early reactions that debuted shortly after the film's premiere), it seems that Sony's Venom is essentially two movies in one: the first, an intriguing comic book movie that fits the tone of modern comic book films, and the second, a nonsensical production that tends to skirt the edges of being a comedy. All in all, it looks like Venom is an incredibly fun movie that appears to falter the longer it goes on.
Ultimately, the movie's success will be decided by those who do and don't show up at the theater this weekend (and beyond) to see Sony's latest Marvel project. If it winds up flopping at the box office, then the studio's burgeoning shared universe may be dead on arrival, though that's not something that is being decided on at this moment. However, it seems like Venom will be good fun for many moviegoers - just not all of them.
Source: Various (see links)
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018