Australian Council on Children and the Media

Venom

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Not recommended for children under 13 and parental guidance recommend to 14 due to scary scenes, violence and some coarse language.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Venom
  • a review of Venom completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 October 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to scary scenes, violence and coarse language.
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, violence and coarse language.
Viewers 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Venom
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes, violence and coarse language.
Length 112 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

An exploratory space mission finds alien life forms existing on a comet; aliens that can only exist and survive in a symbiotic relationship with an oxygen-breathing host.  Four samples of the “symbiotes” are transported back to earth for research, but disaster strikes when the ship crashes and one of them escapes. The remaining three samples are taken to a high security laboratory at the notorious Life Foundation headquarters where scientists begin experimental human trials to merge the symbiotes with humans.

Meanwhile, investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is sent to interview the CEO of the Life Foundation, Carlton Blake (Rizwan Ahmed). Eddie senses that there is something very sinister happening and he happens upon some classified documents that accuse the Life Foundation of causing the death of human volunteers. However, when he challenges Carlton Blake on the matter, he is immediately shut down and fired from his job.

With his life in ruins, Eddie has little to lose when an employee of the Life Foundation tracks him down and leaks the terrible truth about the laboratory testing, begging him to help her expose the atrocities.  Together they sneak into the laboratory and Eddie attempts to rescue one of the human volunteers. This is a huge mistake, as one of the symbiotes attaches itself to Eddie as he flees the building.  With the alien taking over his body like a parasite, forcing him to behave violently and strangely, Eddie struggles to survive. When CEO Carlton Blake discovers the security breach and the escape of one of the symbiotes, he does everything in his power to find and capture Eddie. A violent and action-packed pursuit follows.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Aliens; space travel; human ethics violations; superheroes; good vs. evil

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is extensive and gratuitous violence, including torture, in this movie. Examples:

  • The alien “symbiotes” transform the limbs of their human hosts into knife and blade-like weapons which they use to stab and maim people.
  • In a laboratory, a group of scientists perform experiments where they allow the alien symbiotes to invade the bodies of the human volunteers, causing immense pain, suffering and death. These scenes are graphic and disturbing. 
  • Many scenes of extreme fighting: punching, kicking, use of guns. There are some deaths on scene and many more are implied. There is also some blood and gore as people are gashed and slashed at.
  • Eddie is captured by Carlton Blake’s henchmen who tie him to a chair and prepare to torture him.
  • There are violent verbal threats. For example, one man says to another in a torture situation “I’m going to rip your tongue out of your face”.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • When the symbiotes take over a human body, the body convulses, twists and contorts in a visually disturbing and very scary way.
  • When the symbiotes are in their alien form, they are terrifying, huge, and monster-like creatures with glowing eyes and jagged sharp teeth.
  • When a human is carrying the symbiote, they walk around with vacant, dead eyes and drag their feet like zombies.
  • A woman who has been taken over by a symbiote reaches into a bucket of eels, grabs one of them and viciously bites its head off.
  • Eddie Brock falls from the top of a sky scraper.
  • Fast paced car chase scenes with gun shooting and explosions

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children of this age will also find the above-mentioned scenes scary and disturbing.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children of this age are also find some of the above-mentioned scenes scary and disturbing.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also find the above-mentioned scenes scary and disturbing

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • a romantic relationship between Eddie and his fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams)

Nudity and sexual activity

Eddie and Anne kiss passionately, begin to undress each other, and are seen lying in bed together. Although there is no sex on scene, it is implied.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adults drinking alcohol in bars.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • pussy; ass; shit; bullshit

 

In a nutshell

Venom is a fast-paced action sci-fi. While it has some funny one-liners and the tone is kept light, there is a lot of violence without real consequence, including torture, and some of the scenes are more like something from a horror film. It deserves the M rating, and it is not recommended for children under 13, with parental guidance strongly recommended for younger teens.

The main messages from this movie are that human life is valuable and that our planet is worth saving and looking after.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery and integrity.
  • Seeking out the truth.
  • Standing up to unethical behaviour from large corporations.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The use of violence.
  • Unethical testing and scientific research using humans and animals.
  • The power of large corporations.
  • The possible negative consequences of space exploration.

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