Venom brings a new campy horror vibe to the superhero genre of film

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Venom brings a new campy horror vibe to the superhero genre of film

From left to right: Venom’s actors Riz Ahmed, Tom Hardy, and Michellle Williams.

From left to right: Venom’s actors Riz Ahmed, Tom Hardy, and Michellle Williams.

JOHNNY QUICK/FLICKR

From left to right: Venom’s actors Riz Ahmed, Tom Hardy, and Michellle Williams.

JOHNNY QUICK/FLICKR

JOHNNY QUICK/FLICKR

From left to right: Venom’s actors Riz Ahmed, Tom Hardy, and Michellle Williams.

Craig Watkins, Opinon Editor

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Sony had teased a film based on Spider-Man’s popular nemesis Venom for years, but it took until the climax of another comic book movie series for it to be released. The Avengers series has set a standard for superhero films over the past decade that, for better and for worse, Venom almost completely ignores.

Only time will tell whether Sony’s “Spiderverse” that Venom kicks off will take lessons from Marvel’s genre giant or continue to be its antithesis.

Venom reimagines the antihero’s origin story by writing out New York’s web-slinging crime fighter. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative journalist whose devotion to protecting the less fortunate costs him and his fiancé their jobs after trying to expose a corrupt organization. The group in question is the Life Foundation, which conducts often deadly experiments in an attempt to bond violent aliens known as symbiotes with humans to enhance their abilities and health. An outcast among the symbiotes, Venom (also Hardy), bonds with Eddie and sees the opportunity to be someone significant on Earth. The two agree to work together if Venom uses his powers for good and Eddie provides the humans that Venom must eat to survive, lest he is eaten himself.

Eddie and Venom’s interactions make up the lighter and somewhat more emotional moments of an otherwise relentlessly dark film. Eddie starts out differently from most superheroes, being neither a bumbling dweeb like Peter Parker or suave and charismatic like Tony Stark. He acts and speaks like a normal person and it is only when he has to adjust to living with an alien inside him that he becomes more unhinged and eccentric. Venom growls all of his dialogue, which is often a humorous expression of his immoral desires or criticism of Eddie.

Hardy’s performance is as good as always, though the spoken jokes do not always work. Much of the humor in Venom comes from Eddie’s twitchy physicality and reactions to Venom’s suggestions, which is a far cry from the quip-based comedy in most other modern action movies.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is not given much of an opportunity to shine. Though they all play their parts well, no character gets to be Venom’s equal. Riz Ahmed plays a realistic mad scientist villain, but not a very cool one.

Thankfully the action, which is what anyone going to a Venom movie is looking for, is greatly entertaining. The symbiotes’ powers are not just used for fighting, as there are also chase scenes and occasional bits of body horror. The half of the movie that focuses on a Venom-less Eddie is broken up by scenes of an escaped symbiote killing hosts on its way back to the others and terrifying tests that happen beneath the Life Foundation’s pretty headquarters.

The special effects surpass most of Venom’s peers’, and the few forest-set scenes are beautiful, but Venom is an all-black monster that only comes out at night, making it hard to see what is happening in a couple shots.

Though Venom is constantly fun throughout its rambling plot, not much makes any sense until the final act, like why the escaped symbiote is fixated on reaching the Life Foundation headquarters or why Venom cares about Eddie’s love life. Even after the credits roll there are unanswered questions regarding suitable hosts and what gives one alien blob a greater social standing than the next.

Still, Venom merges superhero action within a horror atmosphere better than any other film in recent years and stands apart from its rivals as a fully entertaining, albeit confusing thriller.

The highlights of the Eddie/Venom relationship do not quite qualify a character study like some other comic book movies, but then why would Venom want a deep story when there are heads he could be eating? Venom earns a 7.5/10.