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‘Venom’ Is Better Than You’ve Heard – Review

Venom Review

Does Venom have a symbiotic relationship with Spider-Man, or can he survive on his own?

A shuttle crashes back to Earth with symbiotes on board – alien life forms that bond to a host to survive. When investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) asks pressing questions of the space firm’s CEO, Blake (Riz Ahmed, Rogue One), he finds his career destroyed and his partner (Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine) walks out. 6 months later Brock sneaks into the firm’s lab, where he inadvertently absorbs the symbiote Venom. Now with Venom’s abilities, needs, and voice in his head, the two must co-operate to survive the pursuing security force and Blake’s own transformation into the symbiote Riot…

Unfairly maligned by critics, this turns out to be a highly enjoyable creature feature. Together with the upcoming New Mutants, Venom represents an interesting merging of horror and superhero films, as they search for new directions in a crowded marketplace.

The most intriguing parts of hero stories are typically the villain’s emergence, and here that’s given maximum breathing room, without constantly cutting back to Spider-Man’s do-gooding.

Tom Hardy fully commits. He’s terrific to watch having a meltdown (be it fine dining or a MRI scan), then wrestling with his new duality. The film also sports one of the best hero reveals, a great score, the right quantity of laughs (see Pacino tribute), unique action sequences, and a pretty spectacular ending. Venom’s creature design is wonderfully realised in the most part, leaving the Spider-Man 3 misfire in the dust.

On the downside, Michelle Williams looks out of place, sharing no chemistry with Hardy. FX quality dips sometimes, more often on Riot. There’s some iffy shorthand journalism chat. And when Venom goes full heroic, complete with wide-eyed fear, it’s less effective. There’s no gore, some argue an R-rating was called for, but personally I didn’t miss it.

Bring on more Carnage, this doesn’t need Parker just yet.

Our Grade: B+

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