Let There Be Carnage takes on the charm of the original film
The new Marvel and Sony movie Venom: let there be carnage is both highly anticipated and a film that still enjoys low expectations. I expected the 2018 original to be a disaster or, at least, disappointing. Instead, we all got a surprisingly sweet flick for a movie about murderous aliens. The sequel does its best to recapture that first movie’s charm, while also including two of Spider-Man’s most popular Marvel villains. Tom Hardy is at his sweaty and manic best as Eddie Brock, who tries to deal with his symbiosis. Meanwhile, Woody Harrelson does a passable job as Cletus Kasady, the human half of Carnage.
Venom: let there be carnage is a two hour movie, but feels shorter in a good way. The movie starts off a bit slow, bouncing between Brock and Kasady throughout. They don’t hang around too long on either character, and each storyline held my interest until the next change. Of course, the two end up clashing, and director Andy Serkis does a great job of keeping the CGI hodgepodge that Venom and Carnage fight visually distinct and interesting. Of course, it’s a moving target. As with the original film, symbiont fights can be plentiful. It’s so fantastic that it can be hard to forget that you are looking at some obvious computer generated visual effects. Still, this movie is good enough that nitpicking the visual effects is really all that can be done to not just gush at it.
That’s good news for Sony Pictures’ ever-expanding Spider-Verse. Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures may not have an active agreement at the moment. Still, with the multiverse now in play, it’s not hard to connect it all.
Venom and Eddie are the emotional heart of the film
Image via Sony Pictures
Michelle Williams is back as Eddie’s former flame Anne Weying (as well as Reid Scott is back as Dr. Dan). Yet as they play the traditional Regular Humans ™ in a superhero movie, they also represent something deeper. Anne and Dan are the parts of Eddie’s life that he hopes to return to but cannot. (Despite what the late Stan Lee said at the end of the last.) Venom and Eddie both feel obligated to take care of them, though Dan only reluctantly does. Still, their future paths are with each other, and that leaves no room for Venom and Eddie to get the girl.
Where the movie even improves on some of the Venom (debut) comics is that the Symbiote and Eddie have separate and conflicting personalities. As with most modern Marvel movies, there’s a lot more comedy than you might think. The film’s first act is essentially the comedic duo of Eddie and Venom, as they both try to adjust to their new situation. In a way, the middle part of this movie is a bit of a coming out story for Venom. I’m not talking (only) about sexuality, of course. Venom is, after all, a bunch of black goo. But, part of that movie is about Venom finding its own identity outside of Eddie. Surprisingly, this movie is the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional and psychological experiences to other human beings (and aliens).
Image via Sony Pictures
Sadly, Naomie Harris’ Shriek is a bit overlooked in the film. She’s incredibly powerful, but she doesn’t really have her own agency or character arc. Which is a shame, because as an actor Harris came to eat in this film. Hope she is a candidate for a Spider-Verse TV series on Amazon Prime.
Venom 2 is a solid superhero directorial debut for Andy Serkis
Image by Jay Maidment via Marvel
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel and Hardy imagined the story, Marcel doing the heavy lifting on the screenplay. However, after achieving 2018 MowgliHere, Andy Serkis goes behind the camera and shows that he can take a superhero story to the street level. Unlike the original film, the stakes here aren’t completely shattering.
Rather than an alien invasion, Venom and Eddie are simply fighting for their lives. For a Talking Heads-style psychopathic killer, Kasady doesn’t even really rack up such a high number of civilians. There are no skyscrapers crumbling to dust and neither is there a scene where terrified Regular Joes and Janes are watching a live newscast wondering if this is the end. Instead of, Venom: let there be carnage does what the typical superhero movie doesn’t: build on smaller-scale stakes. Sure, Carnage is a threat to the innocent and those close to the hero, but the world won’t stop if they fail. This doesn’t make the story any less interesting, but rather helps us relate better to the central conflict.
The film also doesn’t get bogged down in heavy exposure or powerful explanation. The origin of Carnage is very similar to its origin in the comics. However, the “how” and the “why” are never discussed, and that’s fine. As to why Carnage is so much more deadly than Venom seems to be? This was explained in the trailer for Venom: let there be carnage. He is a Red a. It might sound like an oversight or a bad storytelling, but it isn’t. Serkis, Marcel and company don’t get bogged down in gossip and focus only on the characters themselves, human or otherwise. With Shriek, Carnage as an entity could use a bit more definition. However, none of that stands in the way of a heartwarming story and thrilling action.
Venom: let there be carnage is currently in theaters.
What do you think of the film? Share your thoughts, reactions and opinions in the comments below. It is also the place to discuss the big spoil at the end. (So be warned.)
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he’s loved this medium ever since. He is the galaxy’s greatest star pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book “What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More” is available in print on Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.