“Venom” is entertaining, and it’s not sure why

Sony Picture’s “Venom” is a confusing entry into this decade’s long list of superhero movies. It aims to thrill, and mostly succeeds despite its hiccups.

Out of the gate, this film has several forces working against it, the largest of which is purely in its independence from Marvel Studio’s Cinematic Universe. Sony Pictures has attempted to hold their own with a Marvel character without the support of any other iconic Marvel heroes or villains. In the end, “Venom” sends mixed messages, stumbles in its writing and execution and yet remains a fun and entertaining blockbuster.

“Venom” follows the once-successful—now washed-up—reporter Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) and the events following his bond to an alien parasite that requires a host to survive. This bond between these two characters (developed through the parasite talking to Eddie) becomes one of the most interesting and entertaining parts of the film. Tom Hardy is a masterclass actor and his performance both with and without the Venom alien is both convincing and engaging. While the chemistry between him and some of the supporting actors appears lacking, this film is carried on the shoulders of Tom Hardy’s talent and charisma.

The movie starts to run into issues when it has to work within the confines of its own PG-13 rating. Venom is an inherently violent character, and it is painfully obvious when the movie had to cut corners to maintain its PG-13 rating. For a grotesque alien creature who often talks of biting heads off and says, “Eyes! Lungs! Pancreas! So many snacks, so little time!” the movie’s violence is tame overall. This conflict between character and presentation is only one of the many tones in disagreement throughout the film.

“Venom” can’t decide what it wants to be. It flits between super hero drama, comedy and horror, and it leaves the viewer confused as to how they should react to certain scenes. Is this supposed to be funny? Is this supposed to be menacing? Should I be scared and disgusted or laughing and grinning? This lack of tonal focus inevitably hurts the “Venom” experience.

There are moments during the film where I was genuinely impressed and the movie was on the verge of being really clever about something. The introduction to the Eddie Brock character was smooth, convincing and well done. Yet for every time the movie was doing something well, another head-scratching scene would come along and take me back to square one. For example, in one scene, Eddie and Venom are escaping from a bunch of the bad guy’s goons. There’s an excellently choreographed fight sequence that showcases the growing bond between the reporter and his parasite, along with showcasing the pair’s capabilities. Immediately following is a poorly edited and mostly uninspired car chase that looked goofy more than anything; things like this happen numerous times throughout the duration of the film.

Despite the tonal inconsistencies and poor execution of key scenes, “Venom” remains entertaining. It retained the ability to make me laugh and captivate me in many of its action sequences, even through its shortcomings. I can not say that “Venom” is a great movie, but watching it is still an evening well spent, especially if you bring friends.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Venom” a 6.5/10.