September 24, 2020

Venom 4K UHD Blu-Ray Review

I have to be perfectly honest with you, when I saw Venom on IMAX a couple of months ago I really only liked about half of the movie. The first half, basically everything leading up to the point where Eddie meets Venom, to me was pretty boring. But once the symbiote finds Eddie, the movie becomes pretty enjoyable. Cast aside your past biases that Venom has to be connected to Spider-Man, and the movie is a brisk superhero movies that sets up a sequel that everyone wants to see.

All of it rides on Tom Hardy who seems to get the movie better than the supporting cast, and it’s unintentionally funny at times. The lobster scene is legendary and worth seeing the movie for that alone. Venom does fall into the superhero movie trope of two big CG monstrosities (literally) smashing into each other in its climax, but the chemistry between Hardy and himself (he voiced Venom as well) makes it fun.

Sony brings Venom home on 4K on a disc sporting both Dolby Vision and a Dolby Atmos track. Venom is a very dark movie, so as expected the HDR benefits the black levels in the movie, but it isn’t without some colorful moments and the rare daylight scenes see the colors get a nice boost over the standard Blu-ray. Specifically the neon-lit San Francisco night scenes in Eddie’s neighborhood benefit from the HDR with a real nice contrast between the colored lights and the dark night streets.

Detail on the 4K version also gets a very nice boost over the standard Blu-Ray. I noticed more detail in the swirling black mucus Venom CG than I did on the IMAX screen when I saw it theatrically. According to IMDB Venom was shot with a mix of 2K and 8K cameras (very much like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and the 4K version gives you a nice boost over the standard Blu-Ray, especially in the detail department.

The Atmos track is full with a nice sound-field, and as expected Venom’s booming voice sounds great on it. The sound design of his voice being in the back of your head was part of what made the Venom scenes in the theater great, and the Atmos track on the disc replicates that perfectly.

As usual all the extras are included on the Blu-Ray, although the 4K disc does give you the option of watching the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse post-credits scene by itself as a bonus on the disc. And that looks fantastic in 4K, meaning that disc is going to be a real treat when it comes out.

There’s no commentary track on the disc, but they have a “Venom Mode” that’s one of those pop-up factoid modes where text will appear on the screen at various points to point out an Easter Egg or behind-the-scenes production detail. It’s not really a replacement for a commentary, as pop-ups aren’t constant and doesn’t give as much detail on the movie, but thankfully the featurettes that go with it are pretty decent.

The best thing Sony did with the special features of Venom was get Kevin Smith involved. He genuinely loves and is passionate about comics, so to have him in the featurettes gives a legitimate comic book voice to the behind-the-scenes stuff. “From Symbiote to Screen” is the longest at twenty minutes and discusses how they brought Venom from the comics to the movie. Yes, they do address his Spider-Man origins in the comic (they’d have to) and then do a very deft dodge to explain how the movie had to be different and standalone from Spider-Man. It discusses the symbiotes in detail, and is actually pretty good.

“The Anti Hero” at ten minutes is also pretty good focusing on the dual nature of Venom, but the highlight is showing how they did the Venom voice on set. Hardy would record the Venom lines before shooting that day, then the sound guys would play them back to him (with the Venom special effects) via an earpiece. The nine-minute “Lethal Protector in Action” focuses on the stunts, and specifically how they made the motorcycle chase on San Francisco.

“Venom Vision” is second minutes and focuses on Ruben Fleischer and the directing of the movie, with “Designing Venom” is about five minutes and details how the CG effects for Venom were created and applied to what was filmed. Finally “Symbiote Secrets” is a short thing showing the comic book Easter Eggs, but at this point does Stan’s cameo really need to be pointed out?

There’s also a minute and a half about the Venom score, then there are eight pre-vis to final scene comparisons that run a total of 14 1/2 minutes. These are done pretty well in a split screen format where to two versions of the scenes run at the same time. You also get two music videos; “Venom” by Eminem and “Sunflower” by Post Malone, Swae Lee (From Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

The biggest disappointment about the Venom Blu-Ray are the deleted scenes. There are three, one is about a minute and a half long and features Eddie talking to Venom in a cab, another is about thirty seconds and shows Venom destroying a car after the alarm bothered him, and the third is an extended version of the mid-credits scene. This one will disappoint fans. No you don’t see a symbiote make its way into the cell, Woody just has a few more lines of dialog before the “Carnage” line. That’s it. People were probably expecting more with that. One has to wonder if there won’t be an extended version someday.

There is a digital-exclusive extra on the iTunes version of the movie that isn’t on the Blu-Ray. “Friends of Venom” is a seven-minute featurette that discusses all the supporting characters in Venom, and it includes Kevin Smith geeking out about She-Venom.

In the end, Venom comes home with a great-looking and sounding 4K UHD disc with some pretty good extras that only disappoint in a couple of categories. In a time when a lot of Blu-Rays don’t even include this much content (like a lot of the MCU ones) that’s impressive.