Director Ruben Fleischer can’t be blamed for making a movie that tracks so closely with one released just a few weeks earlier (the equally clumsy Predator remake from Shane Black): once again, we have an alien invader who decides, for whatever reason, to aid humanity in thwarting a full-scale invasion by his fellow aliens. But he can probably be blamed for the clumsiness — the vacillating tone that pings between lowbrow slapstick and sci-fi horror; the slippery, slip-shod nature of the relationship between the black-goo alien and his host, disgraced reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy, acting like a live-action cartoon); the hacky dialogue, which sports clichés like “You look like shit” and “You and I are not so different;” and the dim, deadly visuals. The Venom symbiote requires a perfect match to bond with its host; otherwise, the host is doomed. The Venom movie plays like a midnight horror feature that has invaded a superhero movie, and while there are some laffs to be had — Hardy’s delivery is excellent, and his discussions with the growly alien voice in his head are suitably zany — it’s far from a perfect match. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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