VENOM – Review by Susan Granger

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Venom‘s box-office take is yet another reminder never to underestimate the appeal of comic-book movies, especially when accompanied by an Eminem rap-song. While it’s not a Spider-Man film, Venom is made “in association with” Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The story begins when a space probe launched by diabolical Dr. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), Life Fountain’s tech billionaire, brings a gelatinous alien symbiote back to Earth. When the glob merges with a compatible host, its human vessel becomes endowed with extraordinary superpowers and an insatiable hunger.

When Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative TV reporter who rides a motorcycle around San Francisco, questions Drake, the symbiote attaches itself to him, slowly melding and transforming him into the hybrid Venom, much to the shock and dismay of his lawyer girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), who turns to Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott) to try to extract Eddie’s malevolent parasite.

That’s it – in a nutshell. But, of course, the carnage has barely begun since Venom informs Eddie that his species plans to invade Earth.

One curious note: Anne discovers that certain audio frequencies are Venom’s “kryptonite,” referencing DC Comics’ Superman, which strikes a discordant note in this Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Weakly scripted as a Jekyll & Hyde-type origin story by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner and Kelly Marcell, it’s clumsily directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) with Tom Hardy’s mumbling a bit more decipherable than it was when he played the villainous, heavy-breathing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Following the lead of other comic-book movies, there’s a lengthy end-credits sequence, starting with Eddie and Venom driving to San Quentin Prison to conduct an interview with psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) – a.k.a. Carnage – teasing interest in the inevitable sequel.

Then there’s a predictable plug for Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, set for release on December 14th.

Bottom line: to quote the screenwriters, it’s “a turd in the wind.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Venom” is a fearsome 3. Fangs! You’re welcome.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.