Movie review: Venom is a real shape-shifter
This film is a bargain.
You get horror, romantic comedy, a buddy movie, a CGI-packed actioner - all for the price of one ticket.
It's a shame that none of these is great. Venom chops and changes genres like a game in Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
This Spider-Man spin-off of sorts - associated with Marvel, but not the Marvel Cinematic Universe - is so mixed up and ill-executed it could be a recent DC movie.
Having seen Venom twice, some things are no clearer, other than they were going for something more M18 and had to dial it down, or a lot has been lost in the edit.
Do symbiotes feed off the host? If so, how does the Malaysian aunty survive for six months hosting the symbiote Riot? More importantly, how does it take her six months to find an airport?
Then there's Tom Hardy. Once he's infected with the creature, he lurches from convincingly petrified to Mr Bean tribute act and back.
Usually a guarantee of greatness, you are left wondering if there are better takes of Hardy on the cutting room floor or was he always all over the place.
His character Eddie Brock also suffers from not being fleshed out.
A waster who abuses the trust of all around him - his fiancee Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), his boss, the company receptionist - it's hard to care about his fate without any redeeming moment. One suspects they chickened out from have a full on anti-hero.
And for a star investigative journalist, he's clueless. Rather than e-mail vitally important pictures to his boss, he hand-delivers the phone itself. To a skyscraper office. After smashing through the window. At night. Then just leaving the phone on the desk near the open window. Not exactly a guarantee of delivery.
The list of what doesn't make sense in Venom could stretch further than a symbiote tentacle.
The rest of the cast have to make do. Riz Ahmed's Elon Musk-ish billionaire quickly turns generic villain (it must be the polo neck).
His ultimate scheme of bringing more symbiotes to Earth also makes the list of missing explanations.
Thankfully, there is Williams. Despite having to wear Lego hair, she gets a number of the best lines.
The scenes between her and Hardy, the rom-com from another film, have a naturalism that is almost jarring.
While the audience I saw this with laughed along with the jokes, when it switched to the big action scenes - a prolonged chase through San Francisco and the climactic symbiote fight - mobile phones did seem to be checked more often.
Given its box office success, a sequel looks likely. The positive is that if part two is as good as the end-credits scene, it could be a much better film.
Ratings: 2 Ticks
STARRING: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
THE SKINNY: Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) attempts a comeback following a scandal, but accidentally becomes the host of an alien symbiote that gives him a violent super alter-ego - Venom.