By Leroy Dee
Jackson Advocate Entertainment Writer
Director: Andy Serkis
Writers: Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy
Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, and Stephen Graham
Production companies: Marvel Entertainment, Pascal Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment
While Eddie Brock is still struggling to coexist with his alien symbiotic parasite, Venom, he accidentally infects convicted serial killer, Kletus Cassidy, with his own symbiote named Carnage. Can Eddie and Venom reconcile their differences before Carnage can unleash, well, more carnage?
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a loose adaptation of the 1993 Marvel Comics event, “Maximum Carnage”, where Spider-Man and Venom have to team up to stop Carnage and his gang of super criminals from a murder spree. The comic was so popular it was adapted into a video game for the Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis consoles in 1994.
This is not a standalone movie since it picks up exactly where 2018’s “Venom” left us. Eddie Brock visits Kletus Cassidy’s solitary cell in San Quentin State Prison. Neither Venom movie is connected to the Marvel Cinematic or Spider Man Universes.
I actually wasn’t a fan of the first Venom movie. I will admit that there was a certain charm to it, but at times it felt like a campy B movie from the 80s with the only exception being the budget. I’ll even go as far as giving it credit for a couple of memorable scenes, but Let There Be Carnage doesn’t deliver on any of that. Too much of the movie seems to be interested in treading the same stories as the first movie: Eddie and Venom learning to coexist in the same body. In the sequel, there seems to be even more friction between them than the first movie.
The scenes I do remember from this movie are for all the wrong reasons. Venom at a rave party wearing glow sticks? No thank you. I was never a fan of Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Eddie Brock/Venom, and it seems like he’s doubling down this time. It’s almost as if he’s doing a less funny Jim Carrey impression. However, he does have his moments. For example, Venom is often thinking what Eddie is afraid to say out loud, but it seems like the movie is going out of its way to make Venom the comic relief. This makes him less threatening throughout the film.
NATURAL BORN KILLERS REMAKE?
Of course, that role seemed to be filled by the movie’s villain, Carnage. At first glance, Woody Harrelson may seem to be an odd choice to play this particular character, but the more the movie goes on, the more you realize why he landed the role. Once Carnage reunites with his girlfriend Shriek (played by Naomie Harris), half of the movie turns into a pseudo remake of Natural Born Killers, which incidentally also starred Woody Harrelson. As with all of his roles, Woody Harrelson was fine as the serial killer, Kletus Cassidy, turned supervillain (Carnage); however, that’s all he was…fine. He gets the job done, but nobody is going to put this portrayal anywhere near the same level of the likes of Thanos or Killmonger.
With the success of Deadpool and Joker, I wished the studio took a chance and followed in their footsteps. Instead, we have one of Marvel’s most sadistic and violent villains debuting in a PG-13 movie. So what we end up getting is a lot of bloodless decapitations and offscreen stabbings. Also his design is kind of boring. While in the comics his suit keeps bubbling to the point that it feels like it’s going to burst off him, here he just looks like “Red Venom”. I wouldn’t even be surprised if people couldn’t tell which was which when they engaged during the third act’s final fight.
Debuting just a day before October, the trailers sold Let There Be Carnage as more of a horror movie. I’m not sure if the studio decided not to go that route or the director was flat out incapable of delivering those types of scenes, but the horror element is lacking. Don’t get me wrong, Andy Serkis is a legend…as a mo-cap, or motion-capture, actor. As a director, he hasn’t found his voice yet. A director from the horror genre may have been a better fit for this type of movie. It’s a shame when DC’s “Shazam” has more horror elements than a Venom movie.
Overall, I wasn’t bored, but I wasn’t wowed either. The creators know there’s not much plot here and with only a 90-minute runtime, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a serviceable movie, but it could have been so much more. It could have improved on the flaws of the last movie, but with the $90 million worldwide Box Office gross, it’s clear that the studio’s mindset was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You’d think that, for a comic book character with the same creator as Spawn, fans would expect more, but it’s possible people just want to see any version of this character regardless of the quality of the movies. The third act was passably entertaining. When watching on Blu-Ray, just fast forward to that. Last, but not least, I’m sure this movie will only be remembered for the after-credits scene.