The reaction to Venom has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, and one that might work in the symbiote's favor. Early buzz was mixed. Then, after the world premiere, social media began to weigh in, saying Ruben Fleischer's origin story for the alien symbiote wasn't nearly as bad as some feared, and might even be pretty damn funny (even if some of the laughs were unintentional). Now the full review embargo has lifted, so what are critics saying?
We'll go first. In a two-star review, CinemaBlend complained that removing Spider-Man from the Venom story is a death-blow, saying:
Arguably, you can't have Venom without first having Spider-Man... which, in a nutshell, is the main reason that Venom, the movie, doesn't work. Sure, director Ruben Fleischer and his seven credited screenwriters (!!) cook up an alternate origin story for both Brock and the symbiote. But removing Spider-Man from the overall equation creates too many narrative potholes around which Venom fails to weave with any sort of grace or style. Eventually, the movie gets a metaphorical flat tire, and wrecks itself on the Hollywood superhero highway.
Todd McCarthy, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, dismisses Venom as bland, stating:
At a time when the Marvel universe is both expanding adventurously (Black Panther) and wrapping up other storylines (Avengers: Infinity War), Venom feels like a throwback, a poor second cousin to the all-stars that have reliably dominated the box-office charts for most of this century. Partly, this is due to the fact that, as an origin story, this one seems rote and unimaginative. On top of that, the writing and filmmaking are blah in every respect; the movie looks like an imitator, a wannabe, not the real deal.
Matt Patches from Polygon praises Tom Hardy, even though he's making a different movie from everyone else:
Venom would be another anonymous notch on the superhero movie belt if not for Hardy, whose dedication to batshit nonsense is a saving grace --- and reason enough to make a second movie. The pieces are in place for a Venom 2 in which Eddie spends 100% of his time wrapped up with the symbiote; in which Williams, who makes a thankless role so much more than it could have been, has a character whose life extends beyond tracking her animalistic ex's path on Waze; in which any risks are taken.
JoBlo seems to be the movie's loudest champion, stating:
Ultimately, VENOM is better than I expected. Tom Hardy is terrific, and the actor is having a great time playing Eddie along with his new best alien pal. While the story is a bit obvious, I enjoyed the throwback to sci-fi alien invasion flicks. Ruben Fleischer has delivered a superhero feature that is frenzied and perhaps a little too facetious at times. Yet, when Venom attacks, it is a glorious thing to watch. This is the kind of movie that you can sit back and take it all in, just don't think too hard about it. Add to that a couple of inspired cameos and you have a genuinely appealing Marvel flick.
Make the call for yourself once Venom opens in theaters later this week! Also, keep it here on CinemaBlend for a lot more from our interviews with the cast and crew at the Venom press junket in Los Angeles.