Strong Tom Hardy performance is highlight in toothless Venom

Tom Hardy plays Venom Picture: IAN WEST/PA PHOTOS

Tom Hardy plays Venom Picture: IAN WEST/PA PHOTOS

The first of Sony’s planned Spider-man spin-offs sees Tom Hardy star as Eddie Brock – an investigative reporter infected with an alien parasite that gives him special powers.

Directed by Zombieland’s Rueben Fleischer, the film tells the tale of out of work reporter Brock, who begins to investigate unlawful human testing taking place at a multi-million dollar genetics corporation run by Riz Ahmed’s unscrupulous Dr Carlton Drake.

However, when Brock breaks into the company’s laboratory, he is infected with an alien parasite which bonds with him to form the carnivorous beast known as Venom, a well known comic book enemy of Spider-Man.

Despite this, the film makes absolutely no mention of the wall crawler himself, which may come as a disappointment to some fans.

The film’s beginning sets out to establish Brock’s fractious relationship with ex-girlfriend Anne, played by Michelle Williams, but it is a tedious slog.

When the alien symbiote is introduced things get much more interesting.

The movie’s premise is a truly bizarre one, yet Hardy embraces the weirdness, throwing himself wholeheartedly into an over-the-top performance which is worth the ticket price alone.

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Unfortunately for him, the rest of the movie isn’t up to the same standard.

The usually excellent Riz Ahmed is given precious little to get his teeth into as the film’s rather bland antagonist, and Michelle Williams mostly sleep walks through her role as Brock’s love interest Anne.

There are admittedly some entertaining comedy moments which arise from Brock’s internal bickering with the aggressive symbiote, but the film never embraces those elements enough. Instead we get occasional funny lines interspersed with mostly corny dialogue.

The special effects also offer some enjoyable body horror thrills, but again the film fails to take full advantage if its 15 certificate.

As the story progresses, things become less and less coherent. The script writers clearly struggled to find plausible motivation to turn what is essentially a villain into the hero of the piece.

In an era of inventive and original comic book films, Venom feels strangely dated and rather toothless, even an impassioned performance from Tom Hardy can’t quite save it.

Venom is showing at Stowmarket Regal from Friday, October 19.