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Venom is standard superhero fare, but better than I expected.

It’s your typical boy loses girl, boy meets symbiote, boy gains superpowers, boy impresses girl, boy fights another boy story.

Venom is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie as a foil to Spider-Man. Although both Spider-Man and much of the Marvel universe trappings have been scrubbed from this film.

The writing on Venom was done by a committee, including one writer of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. It has dialogue that’s adult and punchy, and the writers understand how to properly structure a film script.

Where the writing severely breaks down is developing any other characters besides the main character Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy). The rest of the cast, including Brock’s girlfriend, his acquaintances, and all the bad guys are so thin they may actually be one-dimensional. If you want a recent superhero movie that gets this right, look at Ant-Man and the Wasp to see how to make both allies and adversaries just as interesting as the main character.

The plot is predictable and seriously lags through the middle. I checked my watch frequently. The boss fight at the end is a snore.

The director, Ruben Fleischer, who helmed Zombieland, is good in character moments but falls short when the action gets going. The fight scenes were chaotic and difficult to follow. Throwing a bunch of shaky camerawork and a gob of camera angles together to create excitement just doesn’t cut it.

Venom and his enemies have some unusual powers and there’s a lot going on. There’s little that grounds this character and what’s happening in the set pieces.

The action is hurt by special-effects that are unbelievable. I’m not just picking on Venom here, most superhero movies have the same problem, it’s just amplified by all the craziness. I hoped that some effects would be cleaned-up after watching the trailers and I was disappointed.

The writers, the director, and Tom Hardy achieve one important thing together… They make Eddie Brock and Venom compelling and sympathetic characters. I wish they had put even a minimal amount of effort towards fleshing out anyone else in this universe. But, the one triumph in this film is that it’s easy to like Eddie Brock.

As a fan of Tom Hardy, I’m glad to see he has landed in a role that fits him so well. You can’t help but get on Eddie Brock’s side. Tom Hardy took this role seriously and elevates all the material he was given.

Tom Hardy is believable in this role and unlike a lot of big actors that get superhero roles, he obviously put a lot of heart into his performance. If Hardy was not in this film Venom would have been a complete disaster.

The soundtrack is suitably filled with marginally edgy rap music that fits the style of the film. The score by Ludwig Göransson, who composed the Black Panther soundtrack, is also good.

Overall, Venom is a middle-of-the-road superhero film that owes a lot to the presence and involvement of Tom Hardy.

It’s not a waste of time. There are plenty of fun moments, a few laughs, and a lot of Tom Hardy (if you’re into that).

They achieved one other thing with this film, and I’m sure that Sony will be happy to hear this, I think they have the bones of an entertaining franchise if they can find better writers and a director who fits this character better.

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