Lower your expectations folks, because Venom is kind of disappointing. The film doesn't fulfill the potential of the character or the story. Venom needed a harder edge, to be bold, and embrace the savagery of the symbiote. Instead it straddles the PG-13 rating like a pony ride at a petting zoo. A great cast is also wasted on a simplistic script. There are humorous moments and decent action scenes, but the overall experience is lacking. You leave the theater wanting a lot more than what Venom delivers.

Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a seasoned investigative reporter in San Francisco. His girlfriend (Michelle Williams) is a lawyer for Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), a geneticist and owner of the Life Foundation. Brock gets wind that Carlton Drake has been conducting lethal experiments on the homeless. The results of a space mission that ended in fiery destruction. Eddie Brock risks his career and relationship to uncover Carlton Drake's dark secrets. His infiltration of the Life Foundation's facility becomes a transformative experience.

Venom is a violent film, but needed to be much more graphic and visceral. The nature of the Venom symbiote is tearing flesh to pieces, then gorging on the tasty innards. Eddie Brock must restrain the alien from acting on its worst impulses. The film addresses the hunger and inner conflict between the personalities. But it does so in a restrained, light-hearted way. Venom needed to be rated R. The filmmakers and studio should have taken a page from Deadpool's success. Don't limit the character, unleash it to glory. Venom eviscerates by design. The film is woefully deficient in blood, guts, and gore.

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The script by Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg is rote and unsophisticated. We've become so accustomed to real drama in the comic book genre, it's glaringly missing here . The plot unfolds with zero surprises. The lead characters come off as clunky and robotic. This cannot be the case when you have Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed. These are formidable actors with tremendous talent. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) turns a top tier cast into blase, uninspired performances.

The one thing the film gets right is Venom's look. The inky black musculature, razor-sharp teeth, dripping serpentine tongue; Venom is ripped perfectly off the comic page. Tom Hardy's voice is distorted to sound deep and menacing. The action scenes show the symbiotes capabilities. They're decent enough, but could have been much more hardcore. If only the effects team had been untethered. Ruben Fleischer draws within the lines when he should have been redefining them.

Venom has an additional scene during the credits. It sets up a pretty exciting sequel. Sony has to take the kids gloves off and commit to the R rating. Venom is not your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man. The film exists outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether the studios bring Venom into the MCU or not, audiences would flock to a true adaptation. Deadpool played hardball and printed money at the box office. Venom can follow the same path and be just as successful.

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Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman