Movie Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

The sequel to Sony’s anti-hero origin story from a few years ago, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a 2021 comic book action film directed by Andy Serkis. Having returned to some sort of life as a freelance reporter, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is still living with the Venom symbiote inside him. After Brock interviews convicted serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), Kasady becomes infected with a dangerous new symbiote variant… and Carnage ensues. The film also stars: Naomie Harris as the mutant Shriek, and Stephen Graham as Detective Patrick Mulligan; Michelle Williams and Reid Scott return, as Anne Weiying and Dr Dan Lewis, respectively, and Peggy Lu reprises her role as convenience store owner, Mrs Chen.

+ to the great shock of nobody, Tom Hardy is a great actor and once again shines as Eddie Brock. Also unsurprisingly, Woody Harrelson can convincingly play a psychopath, put on this planet to commit atrocities – a Natural Born Killer, if you will. Each is a lot of fun, in both their human and symbiote forms (the latter of which is voiced by their respective actors, though Hardy uses a significantly less harsh voice than the first film, which was something I noted in my review)
+ there is much more comedy in this sequel, almost to the point of calling this a black comedy action film. As a character and roommate (bodymate?) Venom seems like a nice guy, and there is some good relationship development between Brock and Venom. Similarly, there are one or two smaller scenes showing the interplay between Kasady and Carnage (but not-so-spoiler: Carnage is not a nice guy)

– Shriek feels wasted, and this whole movie may have been better served with her as the only antagonist. Note that I am not downplaying Harris’ skills at all, and she certainly makes the most of her time, but from a story perspective, playing second fiddle to Carnage only makes her that much less of a threat. Had Brock had a run in with Shriek by herself, this would have further set up the inevitable Venom versus Carnage confrontation
– despite all the blades and barbs on Carnage, all the action is entirely bloodless. It’s a real disappointment considering the Maximum violence of the infamous source material, and Carnage’s visually impressive knife tornado leaves not a single splatter on the dozens of apparent victims. I don’t know if Deadpool or Logan are the way to go to get what I was after, but think of it this way: if you need to change all the suggestive lyrics to Rocky Horror to get it on a Glee episode, maybe Glee shouldn’t do Rocky Horror in the first place
– one way or another, I think it’s pretty clear that Venom and Spider-man will face off at some point (whichever Spider-man actor that may be). It really wouldn’t have been a bad idea to hold off on Carnage until you could have the triple threat we all want, especially if it’s Tom Holland’s Spider-man. A violent and bloody “Spider-man/Venom: Maximum Carnage” film could be the catalyst to turn a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man into the all time great superhero we all know and love
– though Venom’s black and Carnage’s red are far more disparate than Venom and Riot in the first film, it’s still just a big CGI mess that colour-blind me struggled to follow. I know what I was getting into beforehand, so I don’t begrudge it, but it’s still a shame

> I’m pretty sure in the club scene I saw someone dressed up as Heath ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight. First the Batman and Superman references in Eternals, and now this. Do I dare even entertain the thought?

Should you see this film: I don’t regret my time watching this, but don’t go out of your way. The first film was a forgetful if forgivable origin story, a Spider-man-less introduction to Venom’s time on Earth, but this sequel means Venom has had two full films of character development and faced off with his biggest rival without ever meeting the hero he is based on. You would be hard pressed to find many times where a strategy like this has worked, and I can only think of Joker as being successful in its attempt.

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