‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Aims High But Misses Its Mark – Review
If you’re wondering what on earth Eddie Brock and Venom (Tom Hardy) have been up to the past few years, well look no further. The dynamic duo is back in action in the highly-anticipated sequel to 2018’s Venom.
This time around, Eddie has been living with the symbiote, Venom, for a year and is struggling to adjust to life this way. He’s torn between being a powered-up vigilante as Venom, who is seemingly perpetually starving and really wants to eat all the bad guys (but not Sonny and Cher because they’re best friends). Wanting to get some semblance of normalcy back to his life, Brock decides to delve back into his investigative journalism career and luckily for him, a big break comes for him when he gets the chance to interview infamous serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). While this does serve to put Eddie back in the spotlight, what he doesn’t envision is Cletus becoming host to the symbiote called Carnage, and mayhem ensues.
Directed by Andy Serkis, the second instalment to the Venom series looks to build upon what was set up in its predecessor, and while it does do that in some ways, it, unfortunately, falls flat. This has nothing to do with Serkis as a director, no it has more to do with the film’s writing and the story as a whole. Most of the film feels rushed, which is the main issue I found throughout. Everything goes by so quickly in this movie, even things that should be epic, such as most of the action scenes pass by much too fast. The parts where one would think time would be spent, it’s nothing but a blip – even elements which are part of the film’s greater scheme. Typically, a film’s runtime never bothers me. The length of a film doesn’t have any bearing on a movie’s greatness. That being said, it is distracting when even important things, dialogue, etc., pass viewers by as if you’re listening to an audiobook at 2.5x the normal speed. It was hard to enjoy many moments as they passed by in a blur and this is an example of the runtime being detrimental to the film as a whole.
Thankfully, Hardy as Eddie Brock and Venom is just as enjoyable in this film as they were in the first, and bless Hardy because he does provide most of the film’s best comedic moments – which were essentially what kept me in the film for the most part. Hardy’s chemistry with Harrelson’s Cletus and Carnage is passable, but it would have been nicer to have seen more of them together before the symbiote takeover because that was a lot more compelling than the final fight scene (in my opinion). In fact, one of the more interesting characters is pushed to the wayside even though she’s the reason that Cletus holds out any hope of escaping. Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison a.k.a. Shriek is quite an interesting character, but she is hardly given enough. Considering she is the one person that Cletus yearns for, it would have served the story better to spend more time with her, and her and Cletus.
Missed opportunities for characters aside, Venom: Let There Be Carnage isn’t all bad. It does play up the campiness and messiness from the first film, and although it’s not exactly to the same epic effect as the first, it gets kudos for trying to ignite the same magical spark. It also boasts some moments that are truly entertaining and hilarious. It’s no surprise that the movie has moments where it does achieve some of the comedic brilliance of its predecessor, I just which there was far more of this. At least if I found myself laughing more often, I would have been distracted by some of the choices made with the story – or what remained of it after seemingly watching the movie on fast-forward.
Ultimately, the movie felt rushed. What was also lacking in the storyline, unfortunately, overshadowed some of the movie’s better moments. When I watch a movie, I want to enjoy the film enough that I am upset when it ends. However, that was not the case with Venom: Let There Be Carnage. When the film ended, I was both glad it was over and also found myself wondering, “Wait…is that it?”