Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Review): Refreshingly Weird

The Lethal Protector returns! And this time he faces his greatest adversary: Sony Pictures. Read on to see what “we” thought about Venom…

Venom: Let There Be Carnage picks up not long after the first film (at least, that’s what I gathered). Eddie Brock’s journalistic career is making a comeback and his personal life is… not great but improving. His relationship with Venom is comfortable, yet they’re still learning to work as a team.

Meanwhile, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) is slated for death row. The police haven’t discovered where the bodies of Kasady’s victims are hidden, and the only person Kasady will speak to on the matter is Eddie Brock. So begins the adventure…

Venom 2 is a more solid all-around film than the first. I also liked it better (and no, objective quality doesn’t necessarily correlate to how much I enjoy movies). I don’t remember the original film too well though, so I may eat these words during a series re-watch. I’m not in the mood for a step-by-step comparison of the films right now but it boils down to this: Venom: Let There Be Carnage has a simple vision to which it fully commits and embraces its identity with confidence.

The Venom franchise’s relatively small scale is charming. It feels like a throwback to the comic book movies of the mid-2000s which I grew up watching: it’s stand-alone, focuses on a small core of characters dealing with personal threats, and the universe doesn’t have to end every other entry to keep the plot engaging. Venom also brings that 2000s campiness to play. Some people love that style and others hate it passionately! I’m in the “love” camp on camp and I wish more superhero movies would lean into that vein. Stop being so cynical and let yourself like something weird!

Venom wears its goofiness on its sleeve yet doesn’t need to wink at you like: “Haha, we’re in on the absurdity too” as the MCU often does. It is what it is, and without apology. The film is really funny though! Not every gag lands but 80% of them made me smirk (at least).

Venom: Let There Be Carnage': If Box Office Recovers, This May Tell |  IndieWire
Tom Hardy holding a chicken, talking to floating goo with teeth

Now I wanna talk about the man himself. Not Eddie Brock/ Venom, but Mr Tom Hardy! Kudos to this talent for his commitment. Maybe it’s a stretch to say he carries the movie… but I’m still gonna say he carries the movie. I couldn’t imagine this Venom franchise working the same way without Hardy. Venom is far from my favourite character in comic book movies but Hardy’s performance is one of the genre’s best. Eddie Brock feels like a relatable “loser” who pines after his ex, lives in a trashy apartment, and constantly looks like he’s barely holding things together. And Hardy’s Venom performance was so good that I seriously forgot he voiced the symbiote too!

Eddie/ Venom’s relationship is tested throughout Let There Be Carnage. It’s arguably the movie’s driving focus. LTBC plays out more like a rom-com than a superhero flick at times. Director Andy Serkis and crew appeared to care a little about Carnage but they REALLY wanted to do a story about Eddie’s personal conflict with Venom. Eddie and Venom spend more of the movie fighting each other than they do Cletus Kasady. Some people might take issue with that. I found it compelling.

Onto the main baddie now… Carnage’s design was suitably unnerving. The way he moved, looked and fought creeped me out. But he could have been scarier with an R rating… I have more to say on that gripe, so hold it in your memories a while longer. As for Cletus Kasady’s design: the wig looks good now. Don’t worry.

And what of the character? Kasady is a good enough villain for the movie. He’s one of those “just wants to watch the world burn” types, and he boasts a high body count in LTBC. The kills are often nonchalante but PG-13-friendly. Carnage (in Symbiote form) unfortunately came across as a mostly generic threat. But Cletus Kasady was somewhat more interesting: especially his connection with Eddie Brock.

The hero/ villain conflict felt more personal because of Brock and Kasady’s relationship early in the film. The Venom v Carnage plot wrapped up pretty quickly at the end though. There wasn’t much time devoted to building tension between them before their final confrontation. Heck, they only comes to blows one time in the whole movie! Once again: LTBC cared less about the Venom/ Carnage rivalry than Eddie/ Venom’s though, so you can take the aforementioned developments how you will. I didn’t mind too much.

Why Woody Harrelson's Hair Is Different In Venom 2 | Screen Rant
He’s thinking of all the ways to murder you

It was an interesting, if perhaps misguided choice to give Kasady a love-interest. Because the Kasady that I know from the comics is defined mostly as a psychotic killer. His main motivation being love is the film’s attempt to humanize the character in a way which I don’t know was necessary.

Some other “comic accuracy complaints”: I wish we saw more of Cletus and Carnage bonding. Their relationship was very surface level. I might be wrong here, but I always remember Carnage as being even MORE in tune with his symbiote than Eddie/ Venom. Usually Carnage refers to himself as “I” whereas Venom famously says “We”. LTBC doesn’t show this aspect of Carnage at all, so far as I could see.

In any case, Woody Harrelson is clearly having fun! He scenery-chews and relishes in his villainy. Harrelson plays psychotic well, but he also brings a vulnerability to Kasady which I didn’t expect (particularly concerning the love interest).

Speaking of Kasady’s love: Frances Barrison/ Shriek (Naomie Harris) plays the film’s secondary villain. She was OK. Her role was over-the-top and mostly fun to watch but her character was pretty thin.

Then there’s Anne and Dan from the last movie (Michelle Williams and Reid Scott). Anne had a decent amount to do in the movie. I liked her more here than in the original! Dan felt like an afterthought though. It’s almost as if the crew felt obligated to include him because he appeared in Venom 1.

Venom 2 Trailer Has A Lot More Carnage: Movie Origin & Powers Revealed
Maximum Carnage

LTBC’s action sequences were clearly CG heavy, so much of the combat lacked weight but it looked good. My main complaint is the low-lighting occasionally made it hard to see the fights. I’m sure that was an intentional choice to hide the effects-work though. There wasn’t really any “wow!” moments for me though. And NOW I come to my rant…

Sony hampered this film’s potential by making it PG-13. Carnage is supposed to be a vicious murderer, yet we only see obscured killings; Venom calls himself the “Lethal Protector” but we barely see him kill anyone; and many people expected more violence, only for there to be… not so much. I’m not one of those people who think R-rated movies are inherently better. I just think there was demand to see Carnage unleashed on the big screen and many fans will be disappointed with what they got.

Being unattached to any known Spiderman universe ought to have freed this movie to do whatever it wanted! It’s not as if R-rated superhero movies haven’t been successful before. And Venom’s character even lends itself to more “adult” material. The story was what it was, but I think the action could have been more impressive if Andy Serkis had been allowed to go further. Rant over.

Ah yes. You’ve probably heard rumblings about this already, but I’m making a PSA: Absolutely stay for mid-credits scene! If you’re a fan of Venom, it raises serious questions for the franchise’s future you will want answered. There’s nothing for the post credits though– just to warn ya.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage ain’t highbrow entertainment. It’s not giant spectacle either– Just a weird character-driven movie about a boy and his alien best friend fighting a serial killer. And I dig it. The plot is relatively compact, stand-alone and far from ground breaking, but features enough substance to warrant my attention. Not deep by any means but a fun time at the movies.

Keep your expectations in check, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage is Pretty darn good for what it’s trying to be.

What (if anything) appeals to you about the character of Venom? What did you think of Venom: Let There Be Carnage? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!

Till next time,

Joe Morin

REVIEW METRIC: Don’t bother; If you’re bored; Worth a watch; Pretty darn good; Must see; Watch it A.S.A.P.

By Joseph Morin

Joe's passion for film and entertainment began at 7 years old when his younger brother demanded to watch Duel of the Fates every day for weeks (on DVD). Joe admired the sequence so much, he decided to dedicate his life to film-making and storytelling. He has a degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Joe loves DC superheroes (especially Superman), the first six Star Wars movies, and arguing about media with anyone who will listen.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *