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Venom bites off more than it can chew

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Tom Hardy unleashes the monster within. - COURTESY OF MARVEL.
  • Courtesy of Marvel.
  • Tom Hardy unleashes the monster within.

I'll sometimes bend over backward to justify why a bad movie is entertaining and worth a viewing. Bad acting, clunky writing or flat direction can all be forgiven if the film is unintentionally hilarious or shows signs of something good buried beneath all of the awful. "Venom" manages to be boring, exciting, terrible, brilliant hot garbage...sometimes all within the space of the same scene.

The Good:

Tom Hardy invests himself fully in the story of Eddie Brock, a reporter infected with a psychopathic symbiotic life form from outer space. He mumbles, stumbles and tumbles his way through one ridiculous scene after the other, making me excited to see him play the role again even as I (sorry) MARVEL at how this movie even got made.

Venom as a creature and character works. He eats heads. He looks cool.

There's some extremely inventive physical comedy executed perfectly throughout the film. Sometimes during dramatic scenes.

The Bad:

There are wonderful scenes of physical comedy during dramatic moments. Director Ruben Fleischer has no idea what kind of movie he was trying to make. As a filmmaker who nailed the contrast between comedy and horror in "Zombieland," it's strange he failed so miserably with "Venom."

Wasted talent of three excellent actresses. Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate and Melora Walters barely have anything to do, bouncing between damsels in distress and women with agency almost without warning.

YOU NEVER WASTE JENNY SLATE. She's the best of us.

Venom and Eddie Brock as characters aren't remotely like their comic book counterparts. Brock is a scumbag in the comics and Venom is gleefully evil, murdering without compunction. While Venom still eats a few heads in the film, he only kills bad guys, placing him in the camp with idiots like "Dexter" and "Punisher."

The first hour is so boring I felt like I was on hold until the better movie started.

Since Hardy is signed on for two more "Venom" movies, here's how to fix the franchise.

The Fixes:

Fire Ruben Fleischer. Hire someone with vision. Give Tom Hardy some creative freedom.

Put Venom in with Tom Holland's Spider-Man. Venom without Spider-Man is like grandpa without his fanny pack.

Get rid of the romance. Hardy and Williams have zero chemistry and she looked embarrassed the entire time. Eddie Brock needs isolation so his relationship with the monster inside of him can intensify.

"Venom" is basically a serial killer. Make the next movie rated "R" so it doesn't feel like an episode from a bad TV show.

"Venom" is hot garbage, and also sporadically entertaining. It's complicated. There's a great movie in there somewhere, but just like Venom himself, it's too schizophrenic and weird to make a difference.

Venom
Dir. Ruben Fleischer
Grade: D+
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema

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