Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) Movie Review (Written by Hèctor A. Gonzalez)

Although Venom: Let There Be Carnage embraces its comedic senseless buddy romance and has Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson going all in with the gag more than ever before, the sequel to the Marvel-symbiote romp is inconsistent and tiresome; however, it is still way better than the first attempt.

In 2018, Sony decided to expand its Spider-Verse by making the Venom-verse, a franchise that would center the famous Marvel villain and his mischievous encounters with Eddie Brock, his host. Broke October box office records, causing a monetary chain of reactions that would promise a sequel. And here we are now, three years later, it has arrived. Fleischer sacked to make space for Andy Serkis as director, and they added Woody Harrelson to the mix as the new baddy. Unfortunately, it does repeat some of the same mistakes as the first one, but a change in tonnage and a length cut fixed some of them.

After the first film’s events, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is still under investigation and helping the FBI gather information on serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who has some bodies hidden somewhere. When those bodies are found, Kasady is sentenced to death by lethal injection; however, a small bite causes him to get a symbiote of his own: Carnage. Eddie and Venom must now come together once again to defeat a new enemy seeking revenge.

This sequel has more definitive entertainment since it doesn’t have false advertising on what it actually was. Venom (2018) was marketed as a dark and violent take on the villain; instead, it went in a different comedic direction that was very disappointing. With Serkis at the helm, the team decided to embrace its antics with a bromance touch by referencing romcoms like When Harry Met Sally (1989) with the Louis Armstrong song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Eddie and Venom are now in a constant fight with each other trying to build their relationship back together. It basically has the same structure as a romantic comedy, albeit with the turmoil of comic-book catastrophes and situations.

There are still debates on whether they should have gone for a heavy R-rating for this side-franchise, so the audience would get what the total carnage of Venom is all about. Serkis, Hardy, and Marcel managed to build up a scenario in which they could extend their PG-13 certificate the most they possibly could, albeit it still feels that they needed more amplitude in their raunchiness and ferocity. There is a bombardment of swear words, some insinuations to the much darker stuff, and its “gore” happens off-screen. Yet, there is a feeling that something is missing.

Since the film focuses on the comedic aspect and is self-aware, the action is now second-handed. Its primary focus is making you laugh instead of reworking its structure to build a balance between pantomime and thrills. As a result, the action set-pieces are repetitive and unengaging, making the same stylistic choices as many comic-book movies. It does indeed make you laugh, I chuckled multiple times, but there is this essence of un-excitement in the film’s most significant moments, which is technically the main point of seeing the picture.

Tom Hardy’s dedication to the Venom bit is evident. He really likes the character and wants to continue the franchise and expand upon it, causing him to deliver an over-the-top and absurd performance that is quite fun to watch. Although it isn’t a good performance, you still enjoy it. And the same comments are said to Woody Harrelson, who is having a fun time with his character. It was like a competition of who exaggerated its performance the most, and Harrelson won. In a way, he takes some of the traits and posture of Mickey Knox from Natural Born Killers (1994), even referencing the red car from the movie.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage might be a step up from the previous venture; nevertheless, it still misses the mark in several facets. It does trim the fat and goes straight to the point with its 97-minute runtime, except it doesn’t deliver much of anything. As an action blockbuster, it lacks the pulsing titillations and tension of well-constructed fight scenes, and as a comedy, we don’t connect with any other character outside of our lead. If you enjoyed the original, you might as well enjoy this one.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage gets a 2/5!


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