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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ruben Fleischer
Cast:
Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Writing Credits:
Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel

Synopsis:
When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego "Venom" to save his life.

Box Office:
Budget
$100 million.
Opening Weekend
$80,255,756 on 4250 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$212,969,264.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime:
112 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 12/18/2018

Bonus:
• “Venom Mode”
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• “From Symbiote to Screen” Featurette
• “The Anti-Hero” Featurette
• “The Lethal Protector in Action” Featurette
• “Venom Vision” Featurette
• “Designing Venom” Featurette
• “Symbiote Secrets” Featurette
• Select Scenes Pre-Vis
• Music Videos
Into the Spider-Verse Sneak Peek
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


Venom [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 19, 2018)

Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) launched its crusade for world domination with 2008’s Iron Man, the films concentrated on heroes. With 2018’s Venom, we get a movie with a villain in the lead – sort of.

More about that qualifier later. As he attempts to reveal the alleged illegal/immoral dealings of biotech magnate Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) manages to lose his job and his fiancée, attorney Anne Weying (Michelle Williams).

This leaves Eddie at rock-bottom, but he gets back into his investigative ways when scientist Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) alerts him to evil that occurs in Drake’s labs. When he checks out the shenanigans, Eddie encounters an alien symbiotic lifeform that infects him and turns him into a superpowered creature called Venom.

Although I alluded to the MCU earlier, Venom doesn’t actually qualify as part of that series. Venom exists as part of the Spider-Man realm, and the character made his big-screen debut as part of 2007’s Spider-Man 3.

For years, Sony owned the rights to Spidey and all the related roles, but with 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the two sides joined forces to allow the webslinger to appear in MCU properties. This meant that after five films disconnected from the rest of the MCU, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming allowed him to mix with the other heroes.

Venom doesn’t continue that, though, as it appears to stand outside of the MCU. This may be why it also seems to exist in essentially a Spidey-free domain.

In the comics, the symbiote paired with Peter Parker and took the form of a black-and-white Spidey suit. Eventually, the complications caused Peter to reject the alien, and it subsequently latched onto Brock.

While Spider-Man 3 told that side of things in a reasonably faithful manner, Venom completely alters the history. Spidey remains entirely out of the loop and instead we get a tale in which the aliens hitch a ride to Earth on a rocket that Drake finances.

Although I think it’s strange that Venom departs so radically from the character’s pre-established origins, I can’t claim this bothers me terribly. Yeah, I’ve complained about variations in the past, and I’ll admit that I’m probably not concerned about the changes here because I didn’t grow up with Venom – he came after I stopped actively reading comics – but I think the movie offers a viable new origin story.

I’m not as sure Venom creates a particularly good superhero movie, though, as it never really gets into gear. Part of the problem comes from an issue that impacts most films that introduce characters: pacing.

When a flick needs to tell an origin story, it tends to eat up a lot of cinematic real estate in that regard. Here Venom needs to introduce a slew of characters, establish a variety of circumstances – the space mission, the symbiotes, Drake’s research, Eddie’s job, etc. – and then bring a super power into the mix.

It’s a lot to force into one 112-minute movie - especially given that a super-long credit sequence leaves this as essentially a 92-minute movie - and it means Venom takes a long time to really feel like it goes anywhere. It’s not the worst paced film I’ve seen, but it seems inevitable that viewers will grow impatient to get to the title character.

When we do, the action picks up, but I don’t know how satisfying it becomes, partly because Venom just isn’t that interesting a role. Despite attempts to portray him as a gruff, male Lois Lane, Eddie lacks a lot of dimensionality, and his weird relationship with the alien attached to him tends to come across as goofy.

And then there’s the villain factor I alluded to at the start. Spider-Man 3 clearly paints Venom as a baddie, and the role seems to go that way for a while here.

However, Venom/Eddie eventually come to terms and this turns the alien into something closer to a hero. Granted, he’s a hero who wants to eat people’s livers, but he still manages to evolve in that regard.

This choice somewhat disappoints me, as I think Venom would seem more interesting if it embraced the evil. Give us a movie that focuses on a villain, not an anti-hero sort – that’d be something different. Instead, Venom walks a more traditional path, and it suffers due to this.

That said, I think other choices create more damage, as the movie never settles on tone, and it comes with thin characters. Most of the cast lacks much energy, but Hardy compensates – sort of.

I’ve now seen Venom twice and I still can’t decide if Hardy shines or stinks. He creates a character who legitimately feels like he exists in a different movie than the other humans, as he emphasizes a loose comedic feel that seems detached from everything else.

However, in a movie that can become plodding and leaden, Hardy’s odd, loose, Walken-esque performance adds life. Hardy makes weird choices and threatens to go too cartoony, but at least he gives the effort some energy.

Ultimately, Venom feels like a wholly middle of the road action film. Despite my criticisms, I didn’t dislike the time I spent with it, as it maintains a reasonable level of drama and action across its running time.

Nonetheless, I can’t claim the movie ever becomes especially interesting or absorbing. It feels like a mishmash that lacks the coherence to develop into something special.

Footnote: as usual, we get a tag scene midway through the end credits. When these conclude, we get a promo for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, so Venom lacks additional live-action material.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Venom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good but not great presentation.

Sharpness became the weak link, as the movie could seem oddly soft at times, mainly in wider shots. These instances didn’t occur with frequency, but I felt the image appeared less precise than I’d expect.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. I also saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Venom opted for a teal impression with some amber/orange along for the ride as well. The colors looked positive within those stylistic choices.

Blacks appeared dark and tight, while shadows showed nice smoothness and clarity. Much of the film looked positive, but the light softness knocked it down a couple of pegs.

A stronger effort, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. With its alien/comic book action, the mix boasted many good opportunities for sonic pizzazz, and it took advantage of them.

Music fleshed out all the channels in an engrossing manner, and effects used the soundscape in a compelling way. Quieter scenes made nice use of ambient information, while more action-oriented material created a vivid sense of the drama. All of this meshed together well and formed a lively impression.

Audio quality also worked well. Speech seemed natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns.

Music boasted nice range and punch, and effects excelled. Those elements came across as tight and bold, with rich, firm low-end response. We ended up with a top-notch sonic experience.

As we shift to extras, we open with Venom Mode, a feature that runs alongside the movie. Though the title may imply it’ll offer an interactive piece, instead it provides a text commentary.

And a spotty text commentary at that, for “Venom Mode” only sporadically provides information. It gives us occasional facts about the science behind the film as well as related elements. It’s a painless addition and the text blurbs don’t substantially interfere with the movie-watching process, but I can’t say that “Venom Mode” tells us much.

Three Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of five minutes. We find “Ride to Hospital” (1:18), “Car Alarm” (0:30) and “San Quentin Extended” (3:12).

The first two offer fairly comedic sequences that are fun but not especially meaningful. The third gives us a longer version of the scene that shows up mid-credits. While it’s always good to see more of the actor who features in that segment, the shorter cut in the movie works better.

Some featurettes follow, and From Symbiote to Screen lasts 20 minutes, three seconds. It delivers comments from director Ruben Fleischer, VFX supervisor Paul Franklin, filmmaker Kevin Smith, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, production designer Oliver Scholl, and actors Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Michelle Williams.

“Symbiote” looks at Venom’s usage in the original comics as well as his adaptation for the movies, other characters, cast and performances. It becomes a good overview.

With The Anti-Hero, we get a 10-minute, one-second reel with Hardy, Smith, Franklin, Arad, Tolmach, Fleischer, Scholl, Slate, Williams, Ahmed, co-writer Jeff Pinkner, prop master Josh Roth, production sound mixer Michael Koff, and actor Reid Scott.

Here we get more notes about Venom, Eddie and performances. In particular, the view of Hardy’s work makes this a useful show.

Next comes The Lethal Protector in Action, a nine-minute, 14-second piece that offers statements from Hardy, Franklin, Fleischer, 1st unit stunt coordinator Chris O’Hara, fight coordinator Tim Connolly, stunt double Jimmy Roberts, 2nd unit VFX supervisor Alexander Seaman, stunt rider Robbie Maddison and 2nd unit stunt coordinator Andy Gill.

As implied by the title, “Lethal” looks at stunts and action segments. It winds up as another fairly satisfying take on its topic.

Venom Vision fills seven minutes, two seconds with remarks from Fleischer, Tolmach, Pinkner, Smith, Franklin, Ahmed, Scott, and Williams. “Vision” mainly discusses Fleischer’s approach to the project, and it does its job, albeit in a fluffy way.

During the five-minute, 34-second Designing Venom, we hear from Fleischer, Franklin, Pinkner, Scholl, Tolmach, and Smith. We learn about the title role’s visual look and how the film brought him to life. It’s another engaging program.

Finally, Symbiote Secrets takes up two minutes, 40 seconds and throws out some Easter eggs. It throws out a quick look at these semi-hidden nuggets.

Under Select Scenes Pre-Vis, we find eight clips that fill a total of 13 minutes, 53 seconds. These use a split-screen format to compare final film footage to rough animation and rehearsal shots used to plan sequences. It becomes a fun way to see the material.

Two Music Videos appear, as we get clips for “Venom” by Eminem and “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee. The former treats Eminem like a symbiote, so we see a succession of characters rap. It’s a pretty clever concept, even if its visual effects look awful.

“Sunflower” promotes Into the Spider-Verse, and it consists of footage from that movie. It’s a dull video.

We also find a Sneak Peek for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This simply offers a three-minute, 34-second scene from the movie. Since Spider-Verse is already on screens, it doesn’t seem very useful – and it’s the same sequence that already shows up at the end of Venom.

The disc opens with ads for Alpha, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Front Runner and Searching. No trailer for Venom appears here.

As a comic book origin story, Venom provides a competent adventure. While it never excels, it creates a fairly entertaining package. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture as well as excellent audio and a decent selection of supplements. Though not a great action flick, Venom remains watchable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main