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American films

Venom film review: Marvel’s sentient alien gets his own movie, and it’s a mess

Like Suicide Squad, Venom tries – and fails – to create a bad-guys-have-more-fun vibe. The alien looks impressive, but the humans are woefully one-dimensional

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 10:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 10:31am

2/5 stars

After three Spider-Man films that produced varied results, Sony Pictures now turns to Venom – a sentient alien that first appeared in the Marvel comics alongside the web-spinner in 1984.

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This carnivorous shape shifter gets its own stand-alone movie – an attempt to create a “bad guys have more fun” vibe that rival DC Comics film Suicide Squad tried so hard to forge back in 2016. It failed there and it fails here. Venom is a film as messy as the amorphous black blob at its core.

Brought to Earth after a rocket encounters a comet, this creature – and the others that accompany it – is able to seep into a human being, whom it uses as a host to stay alive.

In the original comics, it was Spider-Man who became the first host. But wisely, the script turns to Venom’s more notorious human receptacle, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative reporter who gets fired and loses his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams, utterly wasted) after trying to bring down Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed).

A suave San Francisco-based genius inventor, Drake is the owner of the Life Foundation, which is secretly experimenting on these alien “symbiotes” by using homeless people as guinea pigs. When Brock sneaks into the lab to witness this, he becomes the next host for Venom, whose insatiable appetites can barely be contained.

Living inside Brock, it is soon talking to him (Venom being voiced by Hardy, albeit modulated to sound sinister) and, when necessary, enveloping his body.

The relationship between Brock and his “parasite” Venom provides a few wry moments as they try to find common ground, although this dual act for Hardy is nothing on Legend, in which he played both the Kray twins – 1960s London gangsters. While the computer-generated creature with its mouth full of razor-sharp teeth looks impressive, the characterisation of Brock, Drake and particularly Anne is woefully one-dimensional. The directing of Ruben Fleischer, who made the excellent Zombieland, is equally static.

Venom is more proof that not all comic-book movies are sure-fire winners.

Venom opens on October 4

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