Despite the fact that “Venom” belongs in the Marvel universe, the movie has little else in common with its predecessors. This is a gonzo Hollywood blockbuster with sensibilities more akin to dark superhero entries like 1997’s “Spawn” and 1998’s “Blade” than, say, “Captain America”: The violence is surprisingly grisly, the humor is somewhere between sardonic and campy, and the overall tone is manic and caffeinated – and it all works in the movie’s favor. In the lead, Tom Hardy approaches his role with shades of Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool,” delivering the kind of charismatic, go-for-broke performance that has to be seen to be believed. It’s certainly not a perfect movie: There are some screenplay issues here and there, and villain Riz Ahmed generates little menace which makes the movie’s overarching plot almost irrelevant. Nevertheless, it’s just so entertaining and well-paced that it’s hard to get too worked about its occasional narrative shortcomings.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)