Venom ★★½

As everyone says, because it’s spot on, Upgrade more aptly realizes the potential of a very similar premise, in a more resonant and economic (in all regards) fashion. Mostly because in Upgrade, the phenomenon is directly effecting all that the main character is up against. No such connection in Venom— the phenomenon doesn’t seem to help or hinder his dilemma in an emotionally grounded way. That said, on the plus side this movie feels very familiar in a fun nostalgic way. It was written by two dear friends, and their 90s action sensibilities come through in charming ways— especially in the jaunty dialogue, and the simplicity of certain set pieces... like... Yes, of course I want to see the Venom inhabit a dog! The Mask, anyone? Love that choice and others like it, but show me more of that! Wish the movie had leaned into the silly, jaunty fun a little more. Tom Hardy is admirably committed (is it just me or is there more than a little Bobcat Goldthwait to his overall performance and voice?) but he doesn’t summit the levels of physicality that his celeb lookalike Logan Marshall Green delivers in Upgrade, in part by design.