For a Marvel movie to be denied an R-rating, “Venom” is a mean-spirited and noisy debacle with unlikable characters, bad special effects, pointless violence, and no plot. It ranks with some of the worst superhero movies in recent memory.

The character from the Spider-Verse looks like a black Spider-Man with razor sharp teeth and a Beast voice. But not even Tom Hardy can tame the beast in him.

The movie stars Hardy as Eddie Brock, an investigative reporter, who loses his job and fiancée (Michelle Williams), after trying and failing to expose the Life Foundation company (run by Riz Ahmed) for being corrupt. The company sends people into space to find samples of life, and they wrongfully use others as experimental guinea pigs. The sample they find can’t survive on Earth without a human host.

A scientist from the lab (Jenny Slate) tells Eddie that he has to get photographic evidence of her boss’ crimes. When he gets to the lab, he ends up in contact with the sample, and it either becomes Jekyll and Hyde or Ren and Stimpy for him, because his after ego is now the vicious monster Venom. Eddie struggles to gain control, while Venom becomes an asset to him.

Director Ruben Fleischer is a usually dependable filmmaker with “Zombieland” being his best work, but “Venom” is his most disappointing project. I was warned this was Hardy’s worst performance since “This Means War,” and that person, whoever he was, is right. As both Eddie and Venom, he’s aggravating with his character, personality, and acting. He’s wasted in this. In fact, I nearly forgot how awesome he was in “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Drop,” “The Revenant,” and “Dunkirk.

But it’s not just him I have to worry about.

Williams, the wonderful “Manchester by the Sea” actress, gives her most annoying performance to date in the ways she argues with Eddie and dumps him; while Ahmed lacks a character study. His character’s plan makes no sense. And not even cameos from Woody Harrelson or Stan Lee could shake things up.

I’m a big fan of the Spider-Verse, but everything about “Venom” is disastrous. For example, there is a battle between Venom and gunmen that made me take a bathroom break, something I haven’t really done since “Office Christmas Party.” Most of the CGI effects look shabby, especially its final battle scene.

This is one of the worst movies of the year, period.

☠️ Poison for the Mind (0/4)

The one good thing about “Venom,” was a scene from the upcoming “Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” being spliced in the end credits. So far that movie offers a comic book style in its animation. The scene promoted here features the African-American Spider-Man Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) dragging an unconscious Peter Parker (voices by Jake Johnson) throughout NYC, while dodging the feds. That you should look forward to. Unfortunately, you have to watch “Venom” to see it.

Categories: Action, Horror, Sci Fi

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