Sony has a lot riding on its upcoming comic book movie Venom. If things go well, the stand-alone film centered on the notorious Spider-Man villain will be the building block for Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters, also known as SUMC. Now, as the first wave of reviews of director Reuben Fleischer's effort start to hit the internet, does Venom have what it takes?
By all accounts: maybe? While early reactions from audiences were divided, critics seem to be in the same boat with Venom. While the film is currently sporting a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, sentiments are veering between 'it's messy, but fun' and 'it's messy, and not fun.' And while not everyone comes to a consensus on star Tom Hardy's performance -- everyone took time to point out how utterly unique it is.
Starting off, Variety's Owen Gleiberman took note of Hardy's approach to the character of Eddie Brock. "Yet if you watch and listen closely, you can also see ghosts rattling around in Hardy’s performance — the ghosts of actors like Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke, who attained a timeless mystique by expressing themselves with a kind of post-verbal street poetry. They were the spiritual sons of Brando, whereas Tom Hardy, born in 1977, is like the eager grandson. In Venom, his busy mannered acting fills a void, but it’s also a stunt designed to convince the world, and maybe himself, that he’s holding onto his cred."
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy also noted Hardy's performance, just not in a way that anyone was expecting. "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."
Matt Patches of Polygon felt the film reflected the dueling personalities of Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote, but maybe not in a way that was intended. "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."
Similarly, Peri Nemiroff of Collider felt the Eddie/Venom relationship was what (almost) saved the film. "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."
Finally, The Wrap's Alonso Duralde was left thoroughly unimpressed. "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."
Still, if Venom does manage to perform well at the box office, it's all but certain Sony will continue to develop their SUMC. Despite the bizarre online feud with A Star is Born, the numbers are looking good for Venom when it opens this weekend in theaters nationwide.
Are you hyped to see Venom this weekend? Let us know in the comments.