‘Venom’ Brings the Superhero Films Hot Streak to a Halt

Tom Hardy looks lost in this clumsy adaptation of the Marvel Comics villain.

When a Marvel movie’s Stan Lee cameo is its highlight you know you’re in trouble.

 

“Venom” reimagines the Topher Grace villain from “Spider-Man 3” for a new generation weaned on MCU excellence.

 

Bad move.

 

The Tom Hardy vehicle is endlessly unfaithful to the Marvel Comics legacy. That’s forgivable given the medium jump and our hunger for content reinvention. What we can’t ignore is how unimpressive nearly every stage of the production proves.

Suicide Squad” … most, if not all, is forgiven.

 

 

Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, an investigative reporter who sticks up for the little guy. If that means betraying his boss and fiance in the process, it’s all in a day’s work.

 

Only he’s suddenly out of work and back on the singles scene due to his latest bull-headed blunder. He vows to leave reporting behind but gets drawn back into the game fby a bespectacled scientist (Jenny Slate, miscast). She’s working with an Elon Musk clone named Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed, miscast) with visions of space travel.

 

She witnesses her boss’ inhumane experiments and hopes Eddie can help.

 

Meanwhile, Carlton has more than space flight on his to-do list. He harbors an alien presence in his poorly guarded lab that could save the world once Earth becomes uninhabitable.

 

If you think climate change is the laziest new plot device – give yourself a prize.

 

 

It all leads to Eddie getting infected by one of Drake’s alien symbiotes, and a gooey one at that. Combining with the creature known as Venom grants Eddie super powers and an annoying inner voice.

 

Hardy’s transformation is hardly a must-see moment. It’s the sequence where the movie officially goes off the rails. You can mentally time stamp it by the second.

 

Director Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”)  can’t corral the film’s tone once Venom makes his not-so-grand appearance. We were led to believe “Venom” was an anti-hero in jet black disguise.

 

Hardly.

 

He’s more mischievous than malevolent. Even his fondness for devouring human heads is turned into a laugh line.

 

Eddie’s tortured romance with his former flame Anne (Michelle Williams, miscast), adds nothing to the project save taking the Oscar-nominee out of some superior project. Can’t blame an actress for jumping on the Superhero Movie Express, one supposes.

“Venom” packs modest potential in the first act, mostly because Hardy is such an engaging presence.  By the final scenes he’s been reduced to a second banana to his CGI other half.

The film does move swiftly, although that may be due to a heavy-handed editor. Hardy himself threw early shade at the movie by saying the best scenes didn’t make the final cut.

That’s a “Green Lantern” sized red flag.

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Read the whole thing at HollywoodInToto.com – a great website run by Christian Toto. 

Published with permission.

Christian Toto

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, radio show co-host, podcaster and contributor to The Washington Times, National Review, PJ Media, The Daily Wire and more