Victoria Alexander reviews VENOM

Film Poster: VENOM

Film Poster: VENOM

Awesome. All hail Tom Hardy! This is what you get when an actor takes on a Marvel character. There is no stunt double on wires flying in a suit.

I love MR. INBETWEEN on FX! Scott Ryan plays a working-class hitman.

If you are sick of superheroes and retorts, VENOM is in a class all its own. I am sure the box office will set in motion a reevaluation of the suited superhero.

Tom Hardy’s film work, with the exception of one blackmail project (2012, THIS MEANS WAR with Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine), has been stunning: BRONSON (2008), INCEPTION (2010), MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) and THE REVENANT (2015).

And then there is TABOO, the brilliant, daring BBC1 series that aired in the U.S. on Fox. There will be an eight-episode Season 2 and hopefully Seasons 3, 4, and 5. Hardy and his father, Chips Hardy, co-created the series with Hardy playing James Delaney, who, in 1814, returns from Africa to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire. Jonathan Pryce is sensational, and Oona Chaplin is divine. When will Oona Chaplin be recognized by Hollywood?

VENOM begins with the crash of a private spacecraft in Malaysia (I’ve been there. It is a very happy society). One of its alien inhabitants escapes. It is the blue-green goo from GHOSTBUSTERS that easily binds with humans and takes on their body and mind. The rest of the inhabitants are sent to the San Francisco headquarters of Carlton Drake’s (Riz Ahmed) laboratory on a remote island overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) has had a rocky career. He is temperamental but in love with his lawyer girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). Eddie is given a big “get” interview with vastly wealthy tech genius Drake. But, first, knowing Anne’s firm is working with Drake’s foundation, he goes into her computer and finds highly damaging information about dangerous human subject experiments.

Film Image: VENOM

Film Image: VENOM

Upon meeting Drake, Eddie confronts him with questions about the human experiments. Consequently, he loses his job as an investigative reporter and Anne is fired. She dumps him but keeps her obvious wig hair-do.

One of Drake’s principal scientists is Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate). Dora also has a slept in, non-do hairdo. (Who is responsible for Michelle, Jenny and Tom’s hairdos? I always think the best in every field land in Hollywood on big-budget films. Well, the hair department used 2018 beauty school GED graduates.)

Near homeless and living on beer, Eddie wanders around the city trying to figure out what went wrong. Dr. Dora finds him and – her concerns over the reckless experiments – slips him into the high-tech compound. There’s only one guard on duty!

It seems that Drake has been putting humans inside a lab with the goo and hopes for a merger of the two. Like THE FLY, but with a voice and agenda. This is not “insect politics”, this is Earth’s domination by an ugly, strange looking species that survives eating humans. Eddie’s co-alien starts liking Earth and being a “we” as in “Eddie and him.”

Eddie doesn’t know what the hell has happened to him as he struggles to understand the deep baritone voice in his head and his very superior physical strength.

It’s when the goo names himself “Venom” and shows himself, that Eddie finally realizes he has a very big problem getting another job. And if he ever wanted a sex life, that is clearly a pleasure of his past.

Venom quickly becomes a friend, mentor and romance consultant to Eddie. He was a loser himself on his planet, but here…well, he’s a god with superpowers. The only thing is, he is always hungry.

Someone compiled all of Hardy’s grunts on TABOO into an ultra-macho supercut called “Tom Hardy Grunt Count.”

Another reason why Tom Hardy enchants me: “Discussing his new TV show Taboo – which has been cleverly marketing with a shot of him walking in Africa wearing nothing but a loin cloth – he told the BBC: “You’re lucky there was a loin cloth because I didn’t want one.””

Soon there’s another goo who has taken over a human form and it is up to Eddie and Venom to keep this evil goo/human from taking off for the home planet and bringing millions of goos here to take over. So, does this mean Facebook will add another 90 million members?

Poor Michelle Williams, last year it was disclosed that she was paid less than 1 percent of what her male co-star, Mark Wahlberg, received for reshoots of the film, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD. In contrast to Wahlberg’s pay, Williams, 37, was paid $80 per diem for a total of less than $1,000 for reshoots for the film. If Williams hasn’t fired her agent and contract lawyer yet, her shallow, girlfriend role in VENOM should press the point. Williams clothes show nothing to distinguish her as an attorney for a huge law firm. Is her girlfriend role just to make sure no one thinks Eddie and Venom will fall in love?

I’d take Venom over Anne any day. He’s got a personality and wit.

Did Williams not get along with the notorious prickly Hardy? (I’m recalling the tales from MAD MAX with Charlize Theron.) Where is the sexy scene between Anne and Eddie? Or is Anne just putting up with Eddie until someone better educated comes along?

Directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel, VENOM has the most over-the-top special effects and superior production. The production scroll, which adds 20 minutes to the running time, shows how many people worked on the film. We started shouting out names from the credits to amuse ourselves. The first add-on is worth seeing. If it’s a school night, I would forget about waiting for the second add-on. It’s a cartoon.
Every major movie star, as well as less expensive third tier actors and actresses, believe getting a superhero franchise is the only goal to strive for. Without it, you are a Brad Pitt, a Robert Redford! What kind of cinematic legacy is that?

Tom Hardy changes up the superhero franchise career plan. Leonardo, are you taking meetings yet?

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About Victoria Alexander

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com. For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-3571/ Contributing to: FilmsInReview: http://www.filmsinreview.com FilmFestivalToday: http://www.filmfestivaltoday.com Las Vegas Informer Group: LVInformer.com Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org
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