Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Release Date: December 18, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
VENOM tells the evolution story of Marvel’s most enigmatic, complex and badass character Venom! Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a broken man after he loses everything including his job and fiancee. Just when his life is at its lowest, he becomes host to an alien symbiote which results in extraordinary superpowers – transforming him into Venom. Will these powers be enough for this new lethal protector to defeat great evil forces, especially against the far stronger and more weaponized symbiote rival, Riot?
Expanding their Spider-man film universe beyond its titular hero, ‘Venom’ brings us the origin story of Eddie Brock (Hardy) and his pairing with the alien symbiote in order to become the ultimate anti-hero. After losing everything including his career and the woman he loves following his refusal to back down on a story that certain powerful individuals didn’t want seeing the light of day, Eddie finds himself hesitantly returning to the investigation after an employee close to the project and capable to providing evidence begs for his assistance. But when an alien symbiote latches on to Eddie and an unmistakable bond is formed, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. Balancing each other’s nature as a new, dangerous anti-hero is born that isn’t afraid to bite off a few heads in a fight, they must work in tandem and truly become Venom if they hope to stop the dangerous experiments in play and save the day in their own twisted kind of way.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less) from a screenplay by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) which was based upon a screen-story by Pinkner and Rosenberg, Fleischer does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘Venom’ guiding along the chaotic fun. The film also sports a rather impressive cast that includes Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Jenny Slate (Hotel Artemis), Scott Haze (Midnight Special), Reid Scott (TV’s Veep) and more, with nearly all providing solid overall performances in each of their respective roles, and Hardy offering a competent and relatable portrayal of our lead.
‘Venom’ serves up a fun, humorous and action-packed comic book adventure with a refreshingly different approach to the superhero formula with an anti-hero that has no trouble ripping apart and eating some evildoers throughout his bloody path. The film may veer away from the blood and actual carnage which should come as no surprise considering its accompanying PG-13 rating, but at the same time it never hesitates in delivering plenty of twisted fun and crazy violence in its own right. The character’s antics and the film itself can occasionally feel restrained though and one can’t help but wonder what might have been if absent of restrictions. Yet even so, it still ends up coming together into a surprisingly solid movie that only exceeds expectations, while also actually doing justice to the source material unlike the previous big-screen incarnation of Venom seen in the Sam Raimi directed ‘Spider-Man 3’ which was widely known for angering fans with its portrayal of the popular character. Guided along with care and style by director Ruben Fleischer and featuring a quite capable performance by Tom Hardy in the lead, along with a strong supporting cast that only further compliments things. I would strongly encourage both casual and diehard fans of the popular Marvel character (and of these comic-book inspired film universes in general) to try and make a point of giving this one a fair chance if you haven’t already had the pleasure, you just may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Overall, ‘Venom’ is an incredibly entertaining and well-constructed comic book adventure with plenty of action and a darker spin, along with a slightly more twisted sense of humor which proves for a welcome change of pace amidst the mass of superhero related film and television content these days, especially when so many tend to be notably similar in many respects. A fast-paced and consistently fun ride with a solid overall performance by Tom Hardy as our anti-hero, ‘Venom’ is definitely highly recommended for anyone already looking forward to the film, and of course for hardcore fans of the popular Marvel character. While some may be mildly disappointed by a somewhat less bloody experience than they had hoped for, chances are they still won’t even want to consider missing out on this one and are likely to find themselves far more pleased than disappointed.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Venom’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks spectacular as a whole and delivers a smooth, clean and richly detailed presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be uncovered along the way. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never causing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Sony that should easily please fans of the film and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and truly hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all five available channels in order to send action and nature elements, crowd chatter, music and a whole lot more whipping throughout the various speakers with regularity, and never resulting in any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously becoming distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a marvelous 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes a great deal of additional fun to the viewing experience and sounds great every step of the way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Venom’ includes some solid extras that take you deeper in the origins of the character and bringing him to life for the film. Included on the release is the option to watch the film with ‘Venom Mode’ which when engaged offers informative pop-ups throughout with facts about the movie’s relationship to the comics and more. A few ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the movie including an extended version of the mid-credits scene (running 5 minutes in length combined) are also included, in addition to a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew along with others offering insight on the character and the film itself, plus much more. The included Featurettes are: ‘From Symbiote to Screen’ (running approximately 20 minutes), ‘The Anti-Hero’ (10 minutes), ‘The Lethal Protector in Action’ (9 minutes), ‘Venom Vision’ (7 minutes), ‘Designing Venom’ (5 minutes) and ‘Symbiote Secrets’ (3 minutes). We are also treated to a number of ‘Select Scenes Pre-Vis’ with on-screen comparisons (approximately 13 minutes altogether), plus ‘2 Music Videos’; ‘”Venom” by Eminem’ (5 minutes) and ‘”Sunflower” (from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) by Post Malone, Swae Lee (3 minutes). A ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Sneak Peek’ (approximately 3 minutes) is also included, although it’s the same sneak peek also included in the ‘Venom’ film itself after the end credits.