my review of Venom

Venom01

I reviewed the new Tom Hardy Venom movie for Tor.com and found it to be — er, not great. Tonally inconsistent, hitting way too many familiar superhero origin movie beats despite claiming to be not a superhero movie, a ton of mediocre performances, leavened only by Hardy having a grand old time playing both halves of the title character.

An excerpt:

Being convinced that Brock is a loser is easy because, well, he is. The only reason this movie is in any way watchable is because Tom Hardy sells the notion of Brock as this schlubby fuckup. He has just enough charm that you believe that people are willing to talk to him (the only manner in which he’s believable as a journalist is his easy ability to chat with folks and put them at ease), and he’s obviously having fun with the Gollum/Smeagol style conversations with the symbiote.

Unfortunately, half the time it feels like he’s acting in a different movie from everyone else. The plot is depressingly tired, hitting all the usual beats without anything to make it interesting. Riz Ahmed has absolutely zero charisma as Drake, his blank affect making him seem way more like a sociopath than his alleged public persona should allow. As an example, he talks to one of his homeless victims to put him at ease before he’s bonded with the symbiote, but the talk doesn’t work because he’s too flat and monotone while delivering it. Ditto for his confrontation with Dr. Skirth, Jenny Slate’s whistleblowing scientist. Skirth practically has a sign with the words “DEAD MEAT” on her forehead, as you count the microseconds until Drake kills her for her sudden but inevitable betrayal. The actual death is so predictable that every viewer in the audience predicted it about an hour before it happened, rendering the death itself perfunctory.

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