VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE | Film Review

RELEASED: October 15th 2021 (UK)
DISTRIBUTED BY: Sony
DIRECTED BY: Andy Serkis
WRITTEN BY: Tom Hardy & Kelly Marcel
PRODUCED BY: Tom Hardy, Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Kelly Marcel, Matt Tolmach & Hutch Parker
MUSIC BY: Marco Beltrami
STARRING: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott & Stephen Graham

REVIEW: Boy, these Venom movies are weird. But while the first movie’s issues stemmed from tonal inconsistencies, and the fact that it felt like it was written in the early 2000s, this movie’s primary struggle is the fact that it feels like it’s been hacked to pieces in the editing bay (although yeah, for the most part, the writing isn’t that much better this time around either).

Let There Be Carnage sees Eddie Brock and his symbiote questioning their relationship after Eddie refuses to indulge Venom’s cannibalistic appetite. But the two must resolve their differences after they inadvertently imbue renowned serial killer Cletus Kassidy with a symbiote of his own, thus birthing the monster known as Carnage.

Clocking in at a rather brisk hour and a half, Let There Be Carnage has to fly through the above plot points, as well as rather strange love stories and struggling to find roles for quality actresses Michelle Williams and Naomie Harris, who often don’t really feel like they have a firm place in this movie. There’s a lot of ground it tries to cover, and very little of it is really given time to breathe.

So we’re left with either strange or lacking character motivations (and by extension, characters) and a very choppy first act that rushes to get all the pieces into place for the main crux of the film; the relationship issues and the big slugfest of a finale.

While I will admit that I did enjoy the new take on how Eddie Brock and Cletus Kassidy’s rivalry is born, for the most part, Carnage’s story feels very rushed. This would be more palatable if the film at least let Carnage be the savage bloodthirsty monster that he is in the comics. And sure, he gets a lot of kills in, but like the first film before it, very little is actually shown or detailed.

Now, I’m not saying I want this film to be a full-on gorefest, but it very much felt like a lot of Carnage’s serial killer tendencies were barely touched upon, and his actual atrocities fairly censored (people stabbed out of frame, shots cutting away before heads are bitten off, etc). Furthermore, his relationship with Harris’ Shriek, adapted from the Maximum Carnage storyline, made me feel at several points in the film like this may have been better if this movie had set up Carnage, and followed up with a rematch in the third film where Carnage is flanked by other characters like Shriek, while Venom teams up with Spider-Man or something. I don’t know.

Although admittedly, three films in a row of symbiote vs symbiote action would probably feel fairly stale.

But watching the Harris focused scenes and feeling like I didn’t know what her character was actually meant to act like just highlighted that the writers didn’t have a clear grasp of her role in the film (among other things). This is compounded by the fact that she largely just seems to be a plot device that ultimately doesn’t even reach its/her logical conclusion.

I feel like I’m rambling on about the villains too much, and there’s obviously is more to this film, not all of it bad.

Some of the humour, for instance, primarily the interplay between Brock and Venom, is actually fairly amusing. Venom gets some rather funny lines from time to time, and Hardy arguably gives a better, more even performance this go around (by which I partly mean his accent is less all over the place). Of course, some of the humour is still fairly cringey and some of the jokes fall a bit flat, but once again, the true strength of this film is Hardy’s dual roles and the relationship they share.

Fortunately, the action is also a bit more varied than in Venom’s first outing, with fewer symbiotes just splashing together sequences, and more density to the fights. Or rather, fight, because once powered up, the two stars don’t really interact all that much until the end, which is a shame.

There’s enjoyment to be had here. I certainly enjoyed it more than the first movie. There are moments of good humour, the Symbiote visuals generally look quite imposing (Carnage looks particularly cool), and the seeds for future movies, tantalising.

It’s just a shame that the writing and editing damage the final product as much as they do.

I’m at a loss for what to rank this. I think 2.5 stars is probably fair. But I didn’t dislike this film, so much as I am just aware of the problems it has. So I’ll be generous and give it a…

Anyway, thanks for reading! Who do you want to see Venom fight next? Spider-Man? Carnage, again? Somebody else? Let me know in the comments below!

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