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Review: Venom

Venom
7 10

PLOT: After reporter Eddie Brock is attacked by an alien creature known as a Symbiote, he discovers that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. Soon, he and his new found parasite pal must try and stop a mad doctor with devious intentions.

REVIEW: This week, audiences will finally see what Ruben Fleischer and Tom Hardy have up their sleeves for the big screen adaptation of the iconic comic book character VENOM. With a trailer that didn’t quite live up to fans expectations, and a bit of controversy from those hoping to see VENOM in some bloody R-rated glory, is there more than meets the eye when it comes to a less-than-stellar theatrical preview? For this viewer, the answer is mostly yes. This is a fast paced, comical and sometimes thrilling superhero flick that occasionally feels more along the lines of an entertainingly cheesy creature feature. With a runtime of less than two hours, Fleischer attempts to play as close to the comic design as he can, without actually linking Spider-Man. As well, the filmmaker pushes the violence and brutality making this a very dark  PG-13. And frankly, I liked the smaller world and the focus on Eddie Brock. Even with the flaws, it makes for an enjoyable movie going experience.

Eddie Brock (Hardy) is a reporter willing to take a risk, no matter the cost. And when he is assigned a big interview with Dr. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), he decides to pursue a controversial line of questioning - one involving possible deaths due to mysterious experiments that Drake is involved in. After the interview, he and his fiancé whose company works with Drake - Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) - both lose their jobs, and she breaks off the engagement. Yet Brock was right all along about the evil doctor and his deadly experiments. Drake has come into contact with Symbiotes, blob-like alien life forms that can merge with seemingly any living creature here on Earth. After Eddie is approached by a whistleblower working for Drake, the reporter finds himself host to one of the alien beings. Slowly but surely, he discovers that the creature can control his body and the two begin to merge, thus creating Venom.

tom hardy venom ruben fleischer michelle williams riz ahmed jenny slate action marvel sony 2018 superhero spider-manVENOM is a complicated character for Marvel. The last time we saw him was in the uninspired SPIDER-MAN 3, and it didn’t leave much of an impression. And frankly, it’s a safe bet that Hardy is a big improvement over Topher Grace as the anti-hero willing to feed on flesh and bite off heads. For the first half hour or so, we get to know Eddie Brock as a reporter who has a bit of trouble playing by the rules. Once he is taken over by the Symbiote, the duality of the role becomes quite entertaining. The back and forth between the two characters is engaging, especially as the  two find a little comfort in their complicated situation. Hardy here is equally ferocious, funny and surprisingly vulnerable as Eddie - especially directly after he finds himself attached to Venom.

When it comes to the look of VENOM, Fleischer and his team do an admirable job. Considering you have to make a black blob of goo look realistic, the CG work is better than I had anticipated. Once VENOM is revealed as a part of Brock, you get a better sense of the character and he looks quite impressive. Although when that black blob is about to attack someone else, it lacks a little bit of the impact it should have - you see, Dr. Carlton Drake tends to experiment on random homeless people and others he views as a threat in hopes to find the perfect Human/Symbiote match. Albeit the first victim that the Symbiote takes as host is a bit reminiscent of THE HIDDEN or even JASON GOES TO HELL, which makes for a rather creepy sequence. In fact, that aspect of the film truly does feel like an 80’s sci-fi monster movie.

tom hardy venom ruben fleischer michelle williams riz ahmed jenny slate marvel sony superhero spider-man 2018

As far as the rest of the cast, both Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed do nice work. It is especially entertaining seeing Williams in a film like this, playing off of Hardy. The two work nicely together. Jenny Slate is also quite good - aside from how she says “Symbiote” - yet her character is wasted a bit. It would have been nice to see her play a bigger part of this universe. In fact, as much as I appreciated the short running time, it does appear that a few key sequences have been left on the cutting room floor. And frankly, I’m not sure I firmly believed Venom’s change of heart when it comes to the planet Earth. Like the other Symbiotes that arrive, he is part of a deadly plan that would essentially wipe out the human race. Had the relationship between Eddie and Venom not worked as well as it does, that would have been an even bigger issue than it already is.

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. This won’t change how you view superhero movies, but it’s a great escape nonetheless. Now that the character has officially been established, hopefully we are closer to seeing Tom Hardy and Tom Holland come face to face for a proper SPIDER-MAN and VENOM mash-up.

Source: JoBlo.com

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