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VENOM gets 3.5/10 The goo, the bad, and the ugly


Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

3.5/10

Venom is certainly a character that has had a terrible history when it comes to the cinema screen. The popular comic villain/ sometimes anti-hero, has had a string of failed attempt to bring him to movie going audiences, both before and after being disastrously shoehorned into Sam Raimi’s franchise killing Spider-Man 3 (2007). With this latest incarnation, is the charismatic Tom Hardy able to break the alien symbiote’s curse?

Reporter Eddie Brock may play fast and loose by the rules, but it led to his segment being one of the most watched pieces of news in the San Francisco Bay area. However an on air confrontation over human medical trials with corporate wunderkind CEO, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), causes Eddie to lose his career and his fiancèe (Michelle Williams). Months later with his life on the skids, Brock comes across an opportunity to break into Drake’s lab, finding a facility that is testing a newly discovered alien life form on humans. An otherworldly symbiote infects Brock, a dark formless creature called Venom.

Venom feels like a relic of a bygone era before the Marvel Cinematic Universe helped us to see what comic book films could be. A movie decades out of date, harkening back to a time when studios where still trying to work out the superhero formula, and just endlessly hurling origin stories at the wall in an attempt to see what sticks. Even through that lens, it’s hard to view Venom as a successful introduction of a character. For despite all the special effects and the star power of Tom Hardy, this is a film that has nothing to say. Worse still, it is even unsure of how it wants to say that, be it through that of a dark comedy, or an action film with strong horror elements. In the end it tries both, and fails to do either, creating a vastly inconsistent film, that doesn’t even obey the internal logic of its own world.

Part of the problem is Hardy. His initial portrayal of Brock is so skittish and quirky, that he doesn’t really leave himself much room to slide to madness while being tormented by the alien voice in his head. Nor is he served well by the script. Brock is less of a tormented anti-hero, and more of a thoughtless dick, a character so innately mercenary that he actually requires a cannibalistic alien parasitical goo to act as the voice of his conscience. Occasionally those buddy comedy elements pay off, as the banter between Eddie and Venom produces some genuinely funny moments, but they’re few and far between, and lost amongst the obligatory noise and explosions.

The rest of the film is so blandly generic, that you’d swear you’ve seen it all before. From compulsory car chase to final CG heavy confrontation, despite the competent effects Venom really does nothing to lift itself above a crowded field.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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