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VENOM

SYNOPSIS:
When Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego Venom to save his life.

Review by Louise Keller:
Venom can be defined by the tongue: that ultra long, soft fleshy pink spear of the mouth, whose end curl is a mix of repulsive intimidation and cheek. It would be true to say that the tongue and Tom Hardy are the making of Sony's venture into the Marvel Universe. A spectacle of excesses, this sci-fi fantasy combines a by the numbers plot with action, ooh-wah stunts, humour and a compelling central performance by Hardy, whose performance has enough conflict and appeal to sell the film.

Hardy can do nothing wrong. From the sublime subtlety of Locke (2013) to the rawness of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the containment of Dunkirk (2017), the intrigue of Taboo (2017) and now the excess of Venom, Hardy displays the kind of complexity onscreen that commands attention.

The key to Ruben Fleisher's film is the establishment of character and reality, as we meet Hardy's cowboy investigative journalist Eddie Brock, who leads by his instincts, not his head. He is a man who fights for what he believes in and in doing so, endears us to him. By the time the alien symbiote has morphed its way into his body and controls him, we settle back and enjoy the crazy ride.

Of course, the symbiote is the showpiece - a hypnotic, grey blue slimey organism that eerily slinks about before violently inhabiting itself into the human of its choice. As it manifests itself into Hardy, special effects go into overdrive as the milky alien eyes and armies of vampiric teeth that would send any dentist into raptures take effect. And of course, the tongue... The fact that the symbiote gets inside Brock's head and starts talking to him (in a booming Darth Vader-like voice) allows us to share the inner conflict of two beings inhabiting the same body. Something has to give. The scenes in which Brock does not know what is happening to him are very funny. Watch for the scene in an upmarket seafood restaurant, when an out-of-control Brock cools off by immersing himself in the large fishtank, while gorging on its live contents.

No-one is exempt from the all-powerful symbiote - little old lady, dog, child...Who will be next? The story involves a power-hungry corporate mogul (Riz Ahmed, excellent), whose disregard for human life sees him callously uses men and women as human guinea pigs to achieve his self-serving objectives.

Michelle Williams is solid as Hardy's girlfriend - she and Hardy are good together. There's more to Williams than meets the eye - remember her in Brokeback Mountain (2005), Wendy and Lucy (2008), My Week with Marilyn (2011) and Manchester by the Sea (2016)?

The action sequences are frenetic and shot in true fantasy style - chaos on the roads, crashing a-top skyscrapers and thrilling motorcycle chase scenes. The dialogue is suitably cheesy. 'Are you going to eat anyone else?' ('Probably!'); 'Karma's a bitch'; 'I am venom and you are mine.' Ludwig Goransson's soundtrack roars; I was half expecting to hear Alice Cooper's Poison somewhere in the mix. Venom may be poisonous, but it sure is good fun!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

VENOM (MA15+)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Marcella Bragio, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate, Riz Ahmed

PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Amy Pascal

DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer

SCRIPT: Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinker, Kelly Marcel, Will Beall

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique

EDITOR: Alan Baumgarten, Maryann Brandon

MUSIC: Ludwig Goransson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Oliver Scholl

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 4, 2018







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