Sunday, October 7, 2018

In VENOM, Tom Hardy delights, while director Ruben Fleischer gets the tone just right

Enough knocking from the critical establishment (32% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the anger of comic book fans who wanted something much darker: The movie of VENOM turns out to be a lot of fast, frisky fun. This is thanks to director Ruben Fleischer (shown below), the smart guy behind Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less, who understands the importance of proper pacing and, above all, achieving the right tone. He manages both here, and the
result is enormously entertaining -- a great mash-up of not-quite-super-hero, some dark doings and a lot of delightful, off-the-cuff humor. The humor comes courtesy of that wonderfully versatile and uber-watchable actor, Tom Hardy, shown below, along with his alter-ego/alien embodiment that has somehow, via the oddball and not-quite-completely -thought-out plot machinations, embedded itself in his mind and body. Die-hard fans of the amazing Mr. Hardy (TrustMovies is one of these) will feel jealous indeed of that lucky alien!

Owing quite a debt to The Hidden, one of the first and certainly the best body-hopping alien movie ever made, this newer, bizarre and often clashing combo of predatory alien and smart, sexy, laid-back hero is responsible for much of the movie's near-constant chuckles and smiles. As is Mr. Fleischer's understanding of how to pace events and action so that much of the movie's necessary exposition easily goes hand in hand with action, laughs and some pretty nifty special effects.

Along for the wild ride are Michelle Williams (above, left), somewhat underused as Hardy's girlfriend, and villainous Riz Ahmed (below, center, with Jenny Slate, at left, who forsakes her comedic abilities to play Ahmed's assistant-with-a-conscience). After his fine work in Closed Circuit and now this film, Ahmed (of Nightcrawler and The Night Of) shows us how easily and gracefully he can move from good guy to bad.

How the Hardy character and his alien finally bond and make the best of things is great fun to see. After so many stupid-hero movies that beat us about the head with over-done and over-long CGI effects and stories that go on and on and on, how pleasant to view something relatively short (112 minutes), sweet and entertaining that gets so much so right.

From Sony/Columbia, the movie opens this weekend nationwide, and --despite the critical opprobrium and anger of comic book fans -- is going to be a huge success. I eagerly await the sequel which, if the scene inserted into the end credits can be believed, will feature a whacked-out Woody Harrelson as the villian! Playing all over the place, Venom can be found at theaters near you by simply clicking here.

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