Venom (2018)

[7.0]

Tom Hardy stars as an investigative reporter who becomes the unwilling host body for a gloppy alien creature — named Venom — that gives him superhuman powers. At first the possession experience is scary, with Venom being very much in charge. But eventually Hardy and his counterpart negotiate a relationship as they seek to stop an rich, evil scientist from bringing more dangerous aliens to Earth.

I have no knowledge of the comic book source material, but coming in cold I’m surprised how much I enjoyed Venom. I think the concept of a human/alien symbiotic relationship is just one that speaks to me on an idiosyncratic level. I found Tom Hardy endearing and charismatic in the lead — and his relationship with Venom is both humorous and intriguing. The kind of action the Venom character can provide is also a bit unlike any other superhero movie. There’s a prolonged motorcycle chase through San Francisco in which Venom shoots tendrils and pseudopods from Hardy’s body to move cars, deflect bullets, and save his ass over and over again. Venom also has a nice, welcome mean streak that runs through it in the form of the alien creature’s constant hunger cravings for, among many things, human heads.

Michelle Williams co-stars as Hardy’s estranged love interest. Her considerable talent isn’t especially well utilized, but I’ll take Miss Williams whenever I can get her. Riz Ahmed does a decent job distinguishing himself in the rich, villainous role. The third act is, as usual for a lot of superhero movies, the least interesting as character takes a back seat to a computer-generated showdown. A few visual effects are a little rough around the edges and you might have to give the film more suspension of disbelief than usual — but so what? Venom delivers some solid action and memorable character moments. Matthew Libatique’s beautiful cinematography is also a standout. With Jenny Slate and Melora Walters.

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