Tom Hardy, in there somewhere maybe
A mostly irredeemable flick, Venom actually succeeds at its most difficult task: providing a convincing reason for Venom to play nice as an antihero. The alien symbiote bound to loser reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) likes his new planet better than his homeworld, where he was kind of a loser, too. Other symbiotes, like the real villain, Riot, are way more dangerous. Apparently, two losers can combine into one near-hero, so long as one is a nearly unkillable alien parasite.
Hardy continues to show some of the worst instincts for a talented actor. His Brock is an unlikable asshole with a distinctly unnatural way of talking. (Can Hardy not do a normal voice?) And either someone signed the oddest promotional deal—Ore-Ida?—or has a real thing for frozen tater tots. The rare times when the movie unleashes Venom, either onscreen or in Eddie’s head, reveal this character’s potential. Otherwise, audiences will keep wondering when Spider-Man is going to show up to save the world, despite being sadly aware he never will.
Hopefully, Sony—which owns the rights to characters in Spider-Man’s neighborhood of the Marvel Universe—has more success with its second attempt, December’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, at grabbing a piece of the extended comic universe pie.