Review in Brief: Venom is an unmitigated disaster of a superhero film

As irredeemably piss-poor as Fant4stic and frequently more laughable, Venom is the latest of so many cases for Marvel getting their characters back. (The film’s $80 million-plus big-screen opening guarantees its eponymous anti-hero isn’t likely to make his return to the MCU stable any time soon, but he certainly isn’t being done any favors here.)

Tom Hardy puts on an unplaceable and often incomprehensible accent to star as Eddie Brock, a journalist working on a story about a science facility’s nefarious human trials. Riz Ahmed plays the company’s utterly generic evil genius, who’s trying to bond some tarry, sentient, alien goop to human test subjects. Like Chinese immigrants who adopt Western monikers, these so-called “symbiotes” come ready with English names—though theirs are seemingly concocted by 12-year-old Juggalos. One calls itself Venom and has the voice of Keith David as a werewolf; that little muck pile ends up bonding with Brock, sending him on an interminable adventure through San Francisco’s streets and, for whatever reason, frequently its bodegas. Through an inner monologue granted by their symbiosis, Venom will absolutely not shut the fuck up about how he’s going to eat people. Also, he’s able to turn Brock into a hulking freak with a prehensile tongue and far too many fangs, and in that form, they sort of fight crime.

As actors, Hardy and Ahmed have shown a capacity for excellent work, and are of course completely squandered here on a script that lets the line “rolling down the street like a turd in the wind” slip past a gag draft. Likewise wasted are Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Melora Walters, and particularly Michelle Williams, who is rarely present in any sense of the word. And, as was long rumored, Woody Harrelson finally shows up in an after-the-credits sequence, inexplicably wearing a wig he seems to have plucked out of a box of props from a wedding photobooth. His appearance teases a sequel many Venom and Spider-Man fans would surely be excited for, had they not already stormed out of this thing as soon as possible, expedited turds in the wind.

Grade: D-

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Runtime: 112 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters

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