Venom: Let There Be Carnage review: An entertaining but flawed romp

Venom in Columbia Pictures' VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE.
Venom in Columbia Pictures' VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. /

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a wonderfully fun movie even if it has some flaws that often get in its own way. There will be spoilers so tread cautiously.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the second film from Sony pictures featuring the Marvel anti-hero Venom and his sometimes willing, sometimes unwilling host Eddie Brock. The first film, simply titled Venom, was a surprising hit at the box office even if it wasn’t a huge hit with critics.

Tom Hardy returns to the role of Eddie Brock/Venom. Taking over in the director’s chair for the sequel is the legendary performer Andy Serkis. Best known arguably for his work as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Serkis brings a different flare to the film. It was a much needed change of pace for a story and character with the word carnage being ever present.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a big, dumb, fun movie

Let’s be upfront about Venom: Let There Be Carnage. It isn’t going to win any Oscars, but that’s okay. This movie is designed to pick up where the previous film left off. It tells the story of how Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote Venom are trying to co-exist while keeping Venom’s insatiable desire to eat human brains and other human organs at bay.

Eddie Brock was having a difficult time making this work in the first film, and it is established in the very beginning of Venom: Let There Be Carnage that it hasn’t gotten much easier. The two don’t see eye-to-eye, but Eddie and Venom have developed a fondness for one another, even if neither of them would ever admit it.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage also tells the story of Cletus Kasady (played by Woody Harrelson), a serial killer who has only one wish. That wish is to be reunited with the woman he loves Frances Barrison, aka Shriek (played by Naomie Harris). Harrelson gives an inspired performance as Cletus Kasady/Carnage, but it’s the villains and their development where the film falls short.

Make no mistake, Carnage lives up to the hype. When Carnage is unleashed on the world, the devastation that follows in his wake is exactly what one would expect with a name like Carnage. The problem with the character is we don’t get much of an explanation about anything that is going on with the villains. Here’s a list of things the audience is presented with and has to accept with either very little development or none whatsoever:

  • The romance between Kasady and Barrison
  • What exactly it was that caused Carnage to be spawned when Kasady bites Eddie Brock
  • Why Carnage needs to kill Venom
  • The backstory on what led Cletus Kasady to become a serial killer
  • Why Cletus Kasady wanted Eddie Brock to tell his story

Venom: Let There Be Carnage does give some lip service to some of these topics, as well as a few others which could have been developed more, but nothing feels earned. It feels like this movie is trying to pull some real emotional heartstrings, but it isn’t earning the right to tug on those strings. While many are praising the film’s short run time of around 90 minutes, this movie felt like it could have benefitted from another 15 to 30 minutes of story telling.

Tom Hardy, Venom: Let There Be Carnage
WESTWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 01: Actor Tom Hardy arrives for Premiere Of Columbia Pictures’ “Venom” held at Regency Village Theatre on October 1, 2018 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) /

Where the film does succeed is where the first film also succeeded. When Tom Hardy is allowed to cook as Eddie Brock and Venom, he makes a five star meal. The dysfunctional relationship the two have in Venom: Let There Be Carnage plays out much like you would expect it to in a buddy cop movie, but the fact one of the buddies lives inside the other provides an excellent twist that is difficult to pull off, but Hardy excels in the role.

It wouldn’t be a comic book movie if there wasn’t a big fight between the hero and villain at the end. The fight between Venom and Carnage in Venom: Let There Be Carnage is easily the best part of the film. It blends the right amount of action and humor. It’s a visceral experience, and the viewer feels like they are feeling every blow themselves.

What about the mid-credits scene in Venom: Let There Be Carnage?

Mid-credits and post credits scenes in movies used to be of little importance to the overall telling of a story. In recent years, studios have placed greater importance on these scenes in years past, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage continues in this tradition.

At the end of the film, Eddie and Venom are in hiding on some tropical island, trying to keep a low profile as the authorities are looking for them. The mid-credits scene continues there as Eddie and Venom are watching a Spanish-speaking soap opera of some sort. It leads to a conversation about things in the past, and Eddie starts to inquire about Venom’s past. Though Venom warns Eddie his human brain could not handle even a fraction of the alien symbiotic hive mind’s memories, Eddie still wants to know, so Venom opts to try to show him.

When he does so, something strange happens, and it appears they have been transported to a different version of the same room (perhaps a different universe?) It’s at this moment, we see on the TV the same scene from the mid-credits scene in Spider-Man: Far From Home where J. Jonah Jameson is outing Peter Parker as Spider-Man. When Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is put on screen, Venom is instantly drawn to him.

Does this mean Venom is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Is Venom going to appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home? Those are questions we’ll have to wait to find answers to, but we’ll have plenty of fun speculating what it might mean until we get those answers.

In summary, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a fun movie that fans of the original movie should enjoy just as much, if not more, than the first.

Grade: B+

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