Venom

The first 30 minutes of this movie were cool. They set things up well, and I was watching a cast I love. The problem is that as much as I love Tom Hardy, I didn’t understand this gonzo journalist Eddie Brock character he was playing. He came across as a motorcycle riding doofus, not a reporter that uncovers dirt. Michelle Williams, who is usually terrific, looked like she was wearing a wig and a lot of makeup, and didn’t seem convincing as a lawyer. Riz Ahmed, who I’ve liked since discovering him in Nightcrawler, was the only actor whose character worked the entire movie. He plays the evil scientist/founder of Life Foundation, Carlton Drake. It may have been one note, but I was fine with that.

On the way to see the screening, my wife kept going on and on about how weird it was that they were making a Marvel movie about one of the villains. I had forgotten about Venom in the 2007 Spider-Man 3 mess that Sam Raimi gave us. Most of the people watching that didn’t care for the character so it seems odd to give him a movie. It’s not like Disney is going to make a Jar Jar Binks stand-alone movie.

Apparently, a bunch of fan boys are upset this movie got a PG-13 rating. There’s been a backlash against that, much the way dopey fan boys got upset about an all female reboot of Ghostbusters (just like that movie, they should at least see it, and then diss it).

I’m hit-and-miss with director Ruben Fleischer films. I liked 30 Minutes or Less (Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari) more than the movie critics all went nuts over — Zombieland (Woody Harrelson and Eisenberg). I didn’t like Two Night Stand or Gangster Squad.

This script had four writers, and it seems Fleischer wasn’t sure what kind of movie to make. Many of the one-liners just didn’t land.

A quick description of the story. Brock Eddie gets fired after trying to expose Drake (not the rapper, the CEO). Since he used info he got off his fiancee Anne’s (Michelle Williams) computer, she’s fired, too. Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate)…perhaps the dumbest name for a doctor in movie history…contacts Brock. She isn’t happy with the tests Drake is doing on homeless people, which usually leaves them dead (the movie Extreme Measures with Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman did something similar).

The experiments involve taking this alien blob, and trying to connect it with humans (which reminded me a bit of the sci-fi movies Species and Splice).

When Brock goes to the facility, he tries to save a homeless woman he used to buy newspapers from on the street. That means this alien enters his body, and that’s about when the movie starts going off the rails. Part of the problem is the idiotic narration of the creature — named Venom. The filmmakers probably thought, with the success of the humor in the Dead Pool films, it would work here. It didn’t. An example of a joke…is when Brock is going to leave from the upper level of a skyscraper, Venom tells him to jump. Brock says no, and he says, “Pu**y!”

The screening audience laughed like they had never heard anything funnier. So, if a joke like that is up your alley (and you thought the trailers looked good)…this is the movie for you.

Another thing that surprised me about this was how bad the CGI was. I usually don’t notice that, so when I notice it’s bad, it’s really bad. Sometimes when the character went from human to creature, it reminded me of Jim Carrey in The Mask. And when that huge tongue came out, how do you not think of Gene Simmons? Also, just like we wonder with the pants The Hulk wears…how can all this transformation happen to his body, but when he goes back to normal, his shirt isn’t all ripped off his body? Believe me, though…that’s the least of the many plot holes.

My wife said on the way home, “That movie was so bad, my mind was wandering to things like…is Michelle Williams getting the same pay as Tom Hardy.”

It made me wonder why a woman as talented as Williams, would even be involved in this mess. Especially when her dialogue was so awful. Perhaps she wanted to do something different. She does always tackle such interesting characters (she played Marilyn Monroe wonderfully, and in I Feel Pretty, she had this squeaky weird voice that was hysterical).

I’m a huge fan of Jenny Slate (so much so, that my wife has grown tired of hearing me talk about her or running to the TV when she’s on an interview show); but she was as miscast as when Denise Richards played nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in the Bond film The World is Not Enough.

At least the Stan Lee cameo was fun.

And I got to look at Jenny Slate dressed up like a scientist, with glasses and a sexy white lab coat. Okay, it wasn’t sexy to anybody but me…

1 ½ stars out of 5.