Not your dad's Marvel hero/enemy, Venom provides a new look at a too-well-known universe.
Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)
Screenplay: Scott Rosenberg, et al. (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Cast: Tom Hardy (Locke), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Runtime: 1 hr 52 min
By: John DeSando
Venom is a surprise: It’s funny; it’s mad; and much to my delight, it has an antihero more interesting than a pile of other Marvel superheroes on most days. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an ace TV street reporter who manages to lose his job pursuing a demented inventor, Dr. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), while managing to become the host for an ugly but sometimes comical slimy alien parasite or “symbiote.”
Although film Venom is replete with the usual superhero tropes like the slow-to-get-it love interest, Anne (Michelle Williams), the demented scientist, the threat to the world, and toothy monsters, it has a levity Deadpool could admire, but to a much lesser extent. Not a small number of light moments come from the dialogue between Eddie and his occupying alien Venom, who decides he likes Eddie and the planet so he won’t be the one to destroy it. There are others like him to do it.
As in so many of these horror, sci fi thrillers, the amount of violence from explosions and body tossing is too much. Director Ruben Fleischer could have minimized the scenes and substituted more of the ironic dialogue that makes this a watchable adventure. Scott Rosenberg and the other writers are up to the task.
Hardy’s winning characterization of a rough-around-the-edges hero who has to stop evil is punctuated with naivete, innocence, and a sense of justice and humor. With no Spiderman to distract him, Venom can form a friendship with his parasite that, as they shamble away together, may remind some of the super classic, Casablanca.
Hardy is no Bogey, but his Brock is quirky and eccentric enough for me to hope for a sequel, even with Spiderman to distract.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com