Venom: Let There Be Carnage


‘…slick and polished enough to satisfy; it’s a goofy affair to be sure, but it hits most of the notes that you’d expect from a dark-toned super-hero flick…’

The Venom franchise is one of the odder offshoots from the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the character was previously seen to no great effect in the awful Spiderman 3, and then licenced out to Columbia and Sony to see if they could make anything better from the notion of one man and his symbiote. The first Venom film was a somewhat underwhelming experience, and wasn’t helped commercially by coming out in competition as one of Hollywood’s most successful remakes, A Star Is Born. But the follow-up got the timing right in terms of escapist entertainment, and out-grossed the Bond movie by far on the opening weekend in the US.

It’s not hard to see why; Andy Serkis comes in as a safe pair of hands to handle the elaborate CGI required, and the film builds on the back of introducing Woody Harrelson in the first installment. Harrelson plays serial killer Cletus Kasady, who becomes host to another symbiote called Carnage. Kasady doesn’t seem to have the same issues that Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has with his own parasitical creature, and uses it to reunite with his long love Shriek (Naomie Cassidy). While attemption to placate his hangry symbiote with live chickens, Brock sets out to stop Kasady, but facing up to a creature as powerful if not more so than his own, the stage is set for a smackdown between the two creatures…

Both Venom films double-down on Hardy; San Francisco, motorbikes, leather jackets all add to the Steve McQueen good looks of the star. Despite this, Hardy plays Brock as Norman Wisdom on speed, a twitchy, oddly comic performance that never quite sits right with the Venom special effect. The illusion that Brock and Venom inhabit the same body is just as unconvincing as in the first film, and yet the Gothic trappings just about get this over the finish line. The model for comedy seems to be Deadpool, but like that franchise, Let There Be Carnage seems to be content with easy, dated targets; reference to Barry Manilow hardly seem to be for today’s kids, but Deadpool’s less-than edgy mockery of 80’s icons like Wham or Sinead O’Connor was equally dad-level schtick.

While hardly a ground-breaking movie, Venom 2 is slick and polished enough to satisfy; it’s a goofy affair to be sure, but it hits most of the notes that you’d expect from a dark-toned super-hero flick from orphanages to sinister institutes to a cathedral-top finale. And while Hardy seems perennially unsure of the demands of his part, Harrelson knows exactly where to go with his wild-eyed taskmaster, a neat variation on his Natural Born Killers character with a taste for the carnage mentioned in the title.


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  1. Okay, here’s my crazy experience with this film……first off, I knew nothing about the previous versions (the last time I saw Venom on my screen, Tobey Maguire was Spider Man)

    So when I went to see The Last Duel, there’d been a power outage about an hour earlier, and so Venom was running long and still playing in the theater where I was to watch Duel.

    I was completely shocked when the Venom head came out of Tom Hardy’s body. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…I had no idea! I have to say, watching the last 10 minutes did not make me want to watch the beginning or revisit the earlier film. I know I’m hard on the super hero genre—but truly, to each his own. I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade.

    But I don’t think this one is for me.

    • I’m not sure it’s for me either, although the end is much messier than the start. But at least it’s got the contemporary guts to call out Barry Manilow. He’s been at the cutting edge for too long….I can see what people like about this, it’s different, it’s kind of goofy, but I have to admit, I don’t think I could ever really dig it. My symbiote agrees, so we are unanimous in this.

  2. If they come out with a third Venom movie then I’ll probably watch all 3. But until then I’ll just hold off.
    I was never a fan of Venom and didn’t read one comic with Carnage in it, as it was all just too dark for my tastes. It would have to be free on prime before I watched any of these though. And that I don’t see happening any tme soon.

  3. I’ll grab the DVD at the library when it comes out. I’ve got my hopes up a bit, but I didn’t really like the first movie. Holland didn’t seem the right guy for the role but maybe he’ll grow on me. Trailers look like a CGI-fest again.

  4. Thought this deserved another star from you. It’s way outside the box for MCU/WB/Sony and the relationship between man and creature is very well done. Harrelson as always is superb. I’m less bothered by CGI and more by story and character and I felt this was well above average on both counts. Plus Hardy who can often be mannered seems more at home with this character.

  5. Don’t know if you’ve fixed the bug but I got onto it. I tried your site going through Google but that didn’t work. Then I went in through the Reader in blog and that did work.

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