Here’s our review for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams return for a sequel that is somehow even worse than the original…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The explosion of comic book films over the past 13 years give or take has largely been a positive experience with many of the best movie transcending summer blockbuster status and actually gaining serious credibility where acting, dialogue and execution are concerned.
It was just a few years ago that “Black Panther” was actually nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Of course with so many awe-inspiring performances and jaw-dropping films based upon comic books, there were always going to be a few forgettable movies along the way. That’s exactly the category that the 2018 film “Venom” fell into after a messy and almost incoherent plot at times gave way to the introduction of a character whose entire existence was previously attached exclusively to Spider-Man.
Without the webslinger around to introduce the monstrous alien symbiote that took over the body of a reporter named Eddie Brock, “Venom” had to rely on a wholly new origin story that would transform the once monstrous villain into an anti-hero of sorts.
Sadly, “Venom” failed on just about every level except for the most important one — at the box office.
The film raked in over $850 million worldwide and it took about five minutes for the studio to order a sequel that would reunite Tom Hardy with his inner demon known as “Venom.”
The stage had already been set during a post-credits scene in the first movie that introduced Woody Harrelson — and a laughably bad red wig — as Cletus Kasady, an infamous serial killer from the “Spider-Man” comics, who goes onto become an even more dangerous symbiotic killer called Carnage.
The sequel lost director Ruben Fleischer and instead Andy Serkis — best known as one of the top motion capture actors of all time — took over while reuniting with stars such as Hardy and Harrelson as well as Oscar winner Michelle Williams, who also appeared in the first film.
The result is the movie opening in theaters this weekend called “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and this sequel is definitely a slaughterhouse but not in a good way. Instead, this film is somehow even messier, not nearly as funny and somehow less compelling than the original.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”….
Describing the plot for this movie would make it seem like there’s actually a story to follow but really it’s not all that deep.
After saving San Francisco in the first film, Eddie Brock is living his life along with his symbiotic buddy Venom, who constantly wants to kill people and eat them for sustenance yet instead has to survive on chickens and chocolate.
These days, Eddie is very much a loner after losing the only woman he’s ever loved and his career as a reporter isn’t going much better until an infamous serial killer named Cletus Kasady handpicks this hapless journalist to tell his life story. Eddie shows up at the prison with only a notepad — so apparently he’s a reporter from 1978 — and Kassady instructs him to publish a headline with his direct quote, which is actually a message to his long lost girlfriend that he met while both where serving time at a juvenile institute, and as a reward he’ll share his full story complete with where he hid the bodies from his murders.
But Eddie’s investigative reporting actually leads to Cletus being sentenced to die — thanks to a plot twist that the state of California suddenly re-institutes the death penalty because why the hell not — but just before he’s about to meet his demise, the red-headed killer takes a bite out of the journalist and he soon discovers his blood doesn’t taste like anything he’s ever savored before.
That’s in the trailer so it’s not a spoiler by any means — but from there you can kind of guess where this is going … carnage ensues.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
First of all let’s just get this out of the way — Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Woody Harrelson are all fantastic actors, who deserve all the praise in the world for their past performances but they didn’t have much of anything to work with in this sequel.
Hardy is best when he’s brooding and while he’s got some comedic chops, the dialogue he shares with Venom through most of this movie is just laughably bad yet not funny at all. When Michelle Williams inexplicably returns as his ex-girlfriend, solely so she can become a damsel in distress, she does her best to salvage the movie with her performance.
Now as ridiculous as they made him look, Woody Harrelson just chews the scenery as Cletus Kasady and with better writing and far better execution, he could actually pull off this serial killer role with a certain kind of charm and horror all combined into one. Unfortunately, Harrelson can only do so much even at his best.
The script by Kelly Marcel almost feels like the groundwork was there for a better story yet it was cut down or edited out of the movie in favor of more CGI and bad special effects. Then again, Cletus’ origin story from the comics to the screen was much the same except for the addition of his girlfriend, which was such an obvious plot device that it almost hurts to think about it.
As far as the direction goes, Andy Serkis didn’t do a poor job by any means — in fact for a comic book movie filled with action, the cinematography was probably the highlight of the film. That said, the CGI effects were still not great, which that didn’t really change much from the first movie to this one.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
Is it fair to say everything?
Listen, there’s certainly going to be a section of the audience seeing this film who will just enjoy the jokes and the cartoon-like fight sequences and that’s perfectly fine but there’s still a much better way to do a movie like that.
You could argue that “Guardians of the Galaxy” had a ridiculous premise considering there was a talking racoon and a talking tree among the cast but yet somehow James Gunn made that arguably one of the strongest franchises in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s not as much about what you’ve got to work with — it’s how you mold and shape that into a film that will get people to watch and fall in love with it.
Sadly there’s just nothing to love much less like about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”
The story leaves so many things unexplained or otherwise just pointless in an attempt to explain why it’s happening. Nothing that unfolds feels like the natural evolution of the plot but rather the filmmakers contorting the narrative in order to put Venom and Carnage on a collision course when it’s not clear in any way, shape or form why Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady would actually come into contact in the first place.
It’s just a paper thin movie that offers nothing new or original and truthfully it’s just not much fun either.
It was going to take a lot to turn things around from “Venom” to “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” but this train derailed about 10 minutes into the sequel. If there’s one redeeming quality about this film it’s the post credits scene that everyone will be buzzing about on Monday — but even that should send shivers down your spine when you really think about what that could mean for the future.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a 1 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale.