Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Directed by: Andy Serkis
Premise: A sequel to the 2018 film. Eddie Brock and Venom (Tom Hardy) are sick of each other and split up. Meanwhile, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) gets infected with the symbiote and becomes the supervillain Carnage.
What Works: 2018’s Venom was an uneven film that alternated moments of wackiness and creativity with a standard superhero origin story. The filmmakers have clearly learned from the first outing and incorporated those lessons into the production of the sequel. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is better than its predecessor because it emphasizes what that film did well and it’s looser and a lot more fun. This is fundamentally a relationship movie. Eddie Brock and Venom are past the honeymoon phase of their relationship; Venom is restless and unfulfilled and Eddie is sick of Venom’s neediness. This is not unlike roommates or a married couple and the filmmakers play out the relationship credibly. That gives the story something relatable and real at the center of it while also allowing for humor. Let There Be Carnage has a lot of wacky scenes and not all of them are superhero action. Expository sequences are punched up with creative imagery and the mundane domestic scenes of Eddie and Venom sharing an apartment or quarreling are many of the best moments in the film. By now we’ve come to expect that actors interact with computer generated beings but Tom Hardy’s performance in the Venom sequel is quite good, especially his comic timing. Let There Be Carnage also benefits from its perspicuity. The film only runs ninety-seven minutes. The picture does not feel rushed but it is fast paced because of the film’s streamlined and efficient moviemaking. The fact that it’s able to be this slim and limber while possessing these strange and eccentric asides makes it a unique and enjoyable film.
What Doesn’t: Let There Be Carnage doesn’t do justice to either of its major female characters. Michelle Williams returns as Eddie Brock’s former love interest and the role has been reduced to little more than a cameo; the filmmakers just bring Williams’ character back so they can figuratively tie her to the train tracks in the finale. Naomie Harris is cast as Frances Barrison, the love interest of Cletus, and she’s also underused. Harris’ character isn’t given anything meaningful to do and her relationship to Cletus doesn’t make sense since they haven’t seen each other in decades. The film’s weakest element is its prologue. It’s awkwardly executed. Younger actors play Cletus and Frances but their dialogue is dubbed with the voices of the adult actors and the sound and the image are jarringly asynchronous. Fortunately, the prologue is relatively short.
Bottom Line: Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an overall improvement upon its predecessor. The disuse of the female characters is unfortunate but Let There Be Carnage is best when it gets weird and there is a lot of that this time.
Episode: #873 (October 17, 2021)