(director: Ruben Fleischer; screenwriters: Kelly Marcel, Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, story by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, based on the Comic-Book Created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editors: Alan Baumgarten/Maryann Brandon; music: Ludwig Göransson; cast: Tom Hardy (Eddie Brock/Venom), Michelle Williams (Anne Weying), Riz Ahmed (Carlton Drake/Riot), Jenny Slate (Dr Dora Skirth), Scott Haze (Security Chief Roland Treece), Reid Scott (Dr Dan Lewis), Melora Walters (Homeless Woman Maria), Woody Harrelson (Cletus Kassady), Peggy Lu (Mrs Chen), Michelle Lee (Malaysia EMT/Riot Host), Malcolm Murray (Lewis Donate), Sope Aluko (Dr Collins), Wayne Pere (Dr Emerson), Jared Bankens (Isaac), Emilio Rivera (Lobby Guard Richard), Leva Duvall (Little Girl-Riot host), Sam Medina (Shakedown Thug), Scott Deckert (Ziggy, noisy neighbor), Ron Cephas Jones (Jack), Chris O’Hara (Astronaut JJ Jameson, III), Stan Lee (Dog Walker); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Avi Arad, Amy Pascal & Matt Tolmach; Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures; 2018)

This could be the most inane Marvel put on the screen.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bad sci-fi, horror, thriller that’s weakly directed without joy or imagination by Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”/”30 Minutes or Less“) and flatly written with a silly plot by the team of Kelly Marcel, Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, who adapt it from Pinkner &  Rosenberg’s story. It’s based on the Marvel comic created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie. Venom was introduced in Spider-Man comics in 1984. This could be the most inane Marvel put on the screen. And it also might be the worst acted one despite its talented cast.

A spaceship containing alien specimens crash-lands at East Malaysia. An astronaut (Chris O’Hara) who is a symbiote escapes alive, while the other dead ones are taken to a lab in San Francisco for testing by the suspicious conglomerate called Life Foundation that’s run by its crazed, wealthy and sociopathic British CEO, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed).

The motorcycle riding investigative TV reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) discovers that Drake despite his fame and prestige in the science world to be a bad guy, a mad scientist, one who does harmful experiments in which he makes a lot of money and gets to be a world power-broker. Brock gains this intel by using the computer of Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), his blonde prosecutor girlfriend, and checks out court documents on the site that indicate Drake has been accused of doing illegal human experiments–getting unwitting volunteers off the street to be guinea pigs for his deadly experiments.

Forced by his station boss (Ron Cephas Jones) to interview Drake and told to make it a soft-ball interview, Brock instead comes on hard to Drake when they meet in an intro before the TV interview as he confronts him with his misdeeds. A vengeful Drake cancels the interview and uses his influence to get both Eddie and his girlfriend fired. Thereby Anne dumps Brock and hooks up with a medical doctor Dan Lewis (Reid
Scott). For the next 6 months the blackballed reporter is despondent having lost his girl, his apartment and his career. In this state he is out of the blue contacted by the guilt-ridden assistant of Drake’s, Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate). The researcher wants Brock to collect evidence to put the evil genius out of the science business and in jail before he destroys the Earth with his diabolical experiments. At first reluctant, Brock soon accepts the challenge and sneaks into Drake’s secure, fancy facility with her help. Inside the facility, the nice guy people person Brock tries to help a homeless lady (Melora Walters) he knows from the streets, who is a captive, but she turns on him when he frees her from the glass cage and he becomes the host for another symbiote. In a rage, she turns out a parasite (CGI created) and it looks like a piece of slimy, squirmy bluish-black seaweed, that merges with him by going up his backside. He now becomes a powerful badass Venom, who is able to change appearances as a monster, regenerate himself and become super-strong (the gooey creature visuals are the best thing about this misguided film).

All Drake can think of, is to get the missing creature back. So he sends his sadistic para-military security force team after Brock, and a fight between them ensues. In the comics Venom is a villain, however the movie keeps him as a good guy.

The more the story goes on, the more absurd it becomes.

None of the characters have a personality to give the film a jolt (especially the film’s lead character Tom Hardy, who received praise for his recent films yet doesn’t have any appeal to carry this dumb film). All the characters are underwritten and the story is told without humor. The only funny thing was the film’s advertising tagline: “The world has enough Superheroes.” My tagline would be “The world has had enough Marvel comics put on film to ponder for a lifetime.”

Venom (2018)