October 5, 2018 9:30 am

‘Venom’ review: Atypical superhero movie is bizarre and messy, but weirdly fun

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It’s tough to categorize Venom, the latest movie to feature a comic-book hero. Clearly a victim of its own editing, it appears the film has been hacked to bits, leading to jarring scene jumps and cryptic storytelling. At times Venom moves quickly, and at other times it slows right down, resulting in a non-cohesive, frustrating experience.

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The plot is also jumbled (unless you’re familiar with the comic-book version of Venom), and by the time you reach the climax of the movie, it doesn’t matter if it’s no longer making sense. But the weirdest thing about Venom is it’s kind of fun getting through it.

What is the plot, exactly?

To keep it simple, it goes something like this: alien lifeforms resembling blobs of slime are discovered in space and brought back to Earth. They (of course) fall into the hands of wealthy, power-hungry businessman Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who develops a God complex and ultimately works to breed human-alien hybrids to ensure humanity continues in a more powerful form. An important point: the aliens are parasites that need a host to live.

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an intrusive investigative journalist, inadvertently stumbles upon Drake’s game and comes into contact with one of the aliens, subsequently becoming one with Venom. The now-onesome works to bring down Drake before his power lust destroys the world.

How is Tom Hardy?

The guy is so damn charming, it’s hard to fault him for the script or what’s going on around him. Physically, there’s no doubt Tom Hardy makes an outstanding superhero, but in Venom, he’s anything but an archetypal “hero.” He elicits some laughs while working his way through the absurd plotting, and while you know some things are lacking in the movie, Hardy isn’t the weak link here.

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What about the rest of the cast?

Oh boy. It’s been a while since a love interest has felt so out of place in a movie. Michelle Williams plays Anne Weying, Brock’s fiancée, and she is like a classical music fan at a Norwegian death metal concert, so woefully out of place that her scenes are more comedy than anything else. Ahmed, who’s in almost every movie nowadays, is the big bad, but comes across more as a whiny, complaining brat.

The other players are cardboard cutouts, like Ron Cephas Jones as Brock’s boss and Jenny Slate as Dr. Dora Skirth, a scientist at Drake’s lab.

I’m a die-hard comics person. Will I hate this?

Probably, but it’s tough to tell. This reporter has no history with comic books, so it wasn’t a personal thing for me. For those of you with a storied comic-book history, you may have a picture of what Venom should be in your mind. Whatever you envision, it’s most likely not this. But without that connection to Venom on any level, the movie is infinitely more enjoyable.

So what’s the bottom line?

A messy movie from front to back, Venom still manages to provide some laughs and some fun. If you’re a die-hard fan, you might be disappointed with the results. For the looser folks out there, Hardy’s Venom is a jokester, and very hard to take seriously, but you’ll have a few chuckles before the final credits. It’s definitely the strangest, most undefinable superhero movie to hit screens in years.

‘Venom’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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