When “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” isn’t attempting to be a comic book movie, it’s at its most enjoyable.
There’s a good chance that won’t speak well for future spinoffs and integrations within the alleged “Spider-Verse,” but it appears like director Andy Serkis, screenwriter Kelly Marcel, and star/producer Tom Hardy are all aware of this issue. They also made the right decision by focusing on Eddie Brock’s strange relationship with the alien symbiote Venom.
This sequel serves no purpose and is a waste of time when it comes to movies in general,
let alone franchise building pieces. “Venom 2” has the freedom to be stranger and more irreverent than the previous film, which felt like no one knew how seriously to take themselves. It turned out that the correct response was “not at all.”
Eddie and Venom are now in the midst of their “odd couple” phase, as Serkis describes it. Since his ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams) recently got engaged to Dan, Eddie has gone into full bachelor mode (Reid Scott,
who is a perfect game and unflappable punching bag).
Eddie and his symbiote bicker all day long in their tiny San Francisco apartment, and it’s pretty hilarious. Venom enjoys giving advice, whether it’s relationship related or not. You can think of it as a continuous inner conversation, but with an oily extraterrestrial whose favorite food is chicken and chocolate. As the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” plays, Venom decides to make bacon for breakfast to cheer Eddie up.
Because it’s a superhero movie, we can’t just watch Eddie go about his days sweating and irritated with his chatty symbiote never allowing him a moment of rest. To get Eddie and Venom involved, there needs to be a villain, threat, and some ludicrous motivation.
In Woody Harrelson’s Cletus Kasady, a lovesick serial killer who wants Eddie (who is presumably still working as an investigative journalist) to write his autobiography, this is when the plot takes a turn.
Harrelson looks like he’s having a good time as the psychopath killer who only wants to get back to his true love, played by Naomie Harris, who gets way too little screen time.
Cletus becomes the titular Carnage after receiving his own symbiote. Carnage earnestly shouts the movie’s title in a climactic moment,
even as the film devolves into gaudy and pointless action (in Grace Cathedral of all places).
A large part of this film’s relative success may be attributed to Tom Hardy and his risk-taking performances as Eddie and Venom, respectively. A little one-note, yes, but it’s interesting to hear Venom say “Let me devour him” or “No! I get brain freeze” when Eddie announces he’s going out for ice cream in the same accent.
And the decision of Serkis to succeed Ruben Fleischer was a brilliant one. Golum is the perfect individual to sift through a mo-cap/CG performance in search of the highlights. It’s simply a shame it necessitates the inclusion of the superhero subplot in order to explain its bizarre existence.
For “intense sequences of violence and disturbing material,” the Motion Picture Association of America has rated “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” a Sony Pictures film that hits theaters on Friday, PG-13. 97 minutes of content with no commercials. I’d give it two and a half out of four stars.