“Venom” is a terrible movie from start to finish; a confused, wrongheaded, compromised mess of a production, in which just about every piece of filmmaking that could possibly go wrong does.
The special effects are terrible. It's a mass of dubious, amateur quality CGI filmed with a complete lack of cohesion and clarity that brings to mind some of the worst carnage of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” work and lowers its bar.The dialogue is cringe-inducingly bad at worst and pedestrian at best, played out by a cast that seems to be faintly aware that they are too good to be involved in any of the schlock that’s happening; save for Tom Hardy, but more on that later.From the lack of focus towards every element of the film that was intended to be a selling point, to the utter lack of a single compelling through-line to drive the plot from set piece to set piece, “Venom” is a top-to-bottom disaster that meets just about every low expectation I could have possibly dreamed of.
The reason why all this has to be asserted up front is because the scale and magnitude of “Venom’s” miscalculations are actually a glorious wonder to behold that almost becomes its sole redeeming value.
The notion of expecting franchise longevity is laughable in and of itself but from the moment the Venom symbiote makes his presence known, the movie immediately presents itself as the kind of thing that a fourth grader would think is cool and mature, without realizing in the slightest how opposite the entire affair is. If this untethered view from the good money-loving folks at Sony wasn’t an obvious sign of where things have gone rogue, look no further than the performances to see how off the rails this entire production has gone.
Jenny Slate is quickly becoming one of my favorite working character actresses and though she gives it her earnest, it’s ultimately for something of a waste of a character. Ditto for Michelle Williams whose talents are wasted on the movie, and I almost feel like Riz Ahmed should qualify for an Oscar as compensation for delivering the laughably bad trans-humanistic, Elon Musk parody, James Bond villain dialogue he delivers with a completely straight face. Poor Tom Hardy comes out looking the worst for wear from the entire endeavor, caught between some sort of unholy mixture between Jim Carrey, Christopher Walken, and John Travolta in his prime.
To “Venom’s” credit, the haze of laughable writing, acting, production values, and choppy editing does lift every once in a while to reveal the film that was trying to be achieved. It would have been a movie that justified the initially projected R-rating if the premise that would have been darker, sexier, trashier, more violent, and more exploitative. Unfortunately for the wallets of Sony executives, that movie also wouldn’t have sold action figures. Fortunately for the rest of us, that movie does at least already exist in the form of the highly similar and vastly superior “Upgrade,” released earlier this year.
With that superior option made available, the only reason that I can truly recommend “Venom” is because the depth of its failure truly does land it in the camp of being so bad that it’s almost good. Its entertainment value may not have been from intended reactions but the reactions are still there and to genuinely be had.
The verdict may still be out on the conceptual worth of a “Venom” movie without “Spider-Man” but the one that exists is just irrefutably worthless.
2 out of 5
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.