“Venom” spends a tedious 45 minutes on the humdrum doings of the title monster’s human host before getting around to introducing the head-biting, wisecracking, rage-filled Big Guy with the great big teeth and ultraviolent personality. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

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Movie review

He’s a head-biting, wisecracking (“Let’s eat his brain!”), 7 ½-foot-tall, rage-filled black monster from outer space who is kind of a hoot to hang out with. He’s Venom, prominent Marvel bad boy who’s been wreaking his particular brand of ultraviolent mischief for 30-some years in comics and now on the big screen.

Too bad the audience has to wait 45 minutes for him to put in a full-bodied appearance in the eponymous “Venom,” a picture in the running for the dubious distinction of being perhaps the worst Marvel-derived origin story ever. And that includes the odious 2015 “Fantastic Four.” Bad company to keep.

Before “Venom” gets down to the Big Reveal of the Big Guy in all his shiny CGI glory, it inflicts close to an hour of tedium in the form of the back story of Eddie Brock, washed-up stumblebum journalist who becomes the reluctant human host of the so-called symbiote alien. Venom, who parasitically oozes into his body one fine evening, merges back and forth into and out of Eddie. Thus en-Venomed, Eddie gains super strength and a bulletproof hide, spurts vast ropy tentacles, and sports great big supersharp teeth and a snaky long pink tongue.

Played by the usually excellent (but not this time) Tom Hardy with a highly peculiar, impossible-to-place accent, Eddie is a mess.

In the draggy early going, “Venom” gives us Eddie plying his trade as a pushy TV journalist and playing kissy-face with his lovely girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Pushing too hard in an interview with megamogul Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), he soon loses his job, his girlfriend and nearly his life when he stumbles onto Drake’s evil scheme to perform horrible symbiote-inducing experiments on hapless human subjects. 

Cue generic car chases, CGI fight sequences and explosions.

With Venom in his body, Eddie fears losing his mind and his humanity. That is, until the monster decides he likes the young man, and that’s the start of a bizarre and sequel-spawning friendship.


★½ “Venom,” with Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, from a screenplay by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and for language. Opens Oct. 5 at multiple theaters.