Venom ★★★

Venom is quite the odd duck.

On a structural and technical level, this thing is a complete mess. The story is choppy, disjointed and rushed. The tone is absolutely all over the place (Venom can eat someone’s head in one scene and the call Tom Hardy a “pussy” a few seconds later). The CGI is vastly inconsistent and quite dodgy at times. The acting is incredibly hit-or-miss, with Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate Being horrendously wasted in particular.

And yet, I didn’t *hate* it?

I didn’t come anywhere close to loving it as much as my audience (seriously, they are this thing up), and I won’t ever stoop low enough to call this a “good movie”. I was honestly quite bored and fighting sleep during the first 40 minutes or so.

And then, Venom takes a turn as the symbiote embraces Eddie Brock and Tom Hardy simultaneously embraces the pure and utter camp of this concept.

I really can’t describe what Hardy was doing here, but if everyone was on his level, this thing could’ve been something special. I know a lot of people wanted Venom to be an all-out, R-rated, violent, blood-and-guts extravaganza, and I was initially firmly in that boat as well. Yet, there was something so oddly alluring about Hardy’s inherently absurd, gonzo performance that made me feel that a full commitment to this tongue-in-cheek, buddy comedy approach could’ve produced a more unique, stronger feature. As Ahmed and others attempt to still push the graver aspects of the plot, I found myself just itching to get back to more highlights of Hardy’s spasms and idiosyncrasies. Director Ruben Fleischer delivered an expert blend of horror and humor with his feature Zombieland, and I really wish he would’ve channeled that success moreso here rather than feeling responsible for crafting a bland superhero narrative with only bits and pieces of this inspiration.

Venom could’ve been so much more - and I actually wouldn’t *hate* to see a sequel as long as Hardy was back, just as committed as ever, and they ironed out a much stronger screenplay - but I’m not brazenly disappointed by what we received either. I’m rather indifferent to the feature as a whole, and I can’t provide much of a recommendation due to the plentiful flaws it has. However, if you go in expecting a tonally confused, superhero dark comedy mishmash with a quirky, yet endlessly engaging lead performance, you might find *some* enjoyment.

2018 Ranked
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