Reel Reviews | Venom: Let There Be Carnage

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

Tom Hardy returns as the Lethal Protector takes on a whole new symbiote and his deadly friend in Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

When we last left our friendly little symbiotic duo, they had just interviewed Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) a convicted serial killer who is being held on death row.  Well thanks to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), the brief interview with the killer lead to the discovery of all the bodies of Kasady’s victims.  Since all of the cases have now been cleared, the execution of Cletus could now be scheduled.  Cletus, feeling that he has been tricked by Brock is extremely unhappy, to say the least.  Unwisely, Eddie accepts Cletus’ request for one last interview.  This interview has a surprise that will lead to unintended dangerous consequences for all involved.

The screenplay for Venom: Let There Be Carnage is written by Kelly Marcel from a story by Marcel and Tom Hardy and is based upon the comic book series from Marvel Comics created by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie.  Directed by Andy Serkis, Let There Be Carnage stars Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, and Peggy Lu.

Venom 2 picks up almost exactly where the first movie left in the story thanks to the end credit scene where Brock interviews Kasady for the first time.  Comic book buffs knew from that scene that they were introducing the villain Carnage to the movie series but because the origin of the movie version of Venom was so different from the comic book, it left all wondering how they were going to pull off the origin of this villain.  While the origin is different from the comics again, it makes almost perfect sense.  Nonetheless, Carnage is an offspring of Venom that bonds with Kasady from a violent, psychotic killing machine with unlimited power.  Carnage has the same weaknesses as Venom but many more strengths.

Carnage the movie also has strengths that Venom doesn’t.  The announcements were made months ago that this movie was going to be PG-13 like its predecessor and that it would be only 90 minutes long.  For most fans, this news was more than a little distressing.  With the introduction of the new dangerous foe, the anticipation was that there would be much more violence and gore in the movie.  Director Andy Serkis does a great job of providing strong, bloodless violence that at times is intense but is still somewhat suitable for younger audiences.  Although Venom does bite off a couple of heads, the act is never actually captured on screen.  Carnage too is incredibly violent in his actions but the true consequences of his delightfully naughty crime sprees do not appear on-screen. 

The ninety-minute time limit is a major strength as well.  The movie does not drag at all.  It assumes that you have seen the first film and takes little to no time to recap.  The story is tight and focused and actually does a very smart job of getting in and getting out.  Kelly Marcel (Cruella, Fifty Shades of Grey) returns to Venom with a screenplay that shows others how it’s done.  Don’t waste time, tell the story.  The story is funnier than the previous one which helps to keep the movie light which some would say detracts from the nature of the character but it actually makes it more accessible to a larger audience.

There are two significant achievements in this film.  First, the film securely connects the Venom verse to the Spider-Man verse.  It is unclear whether that means that Venom is now part of the larger MCU but since it is now connected to Spider-Man, it could be which makes the second achievement of the film even more interesting.  Naomie Harris plays Frances Barrison, a villain known as Shriek in the Marvel universe.  The significant thing about Shriek is that she a known mutant so in spite of all the discussion about when mutants (specifically the X-Men) would join the Marvel Cinematic Universe if Venom is now considered an extension of the MCU, mutants have arrived!

Rated PG- 13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material, and suggestive references, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an unexpectedly hilarious action film at least until the final act.  The action scenes are tame and lack the gory cringe that is expected with this subject matter.  Hardcore fans of Venom may be disappointed but it is a generally bearable film that has more significance in what it represents underneath than what it is on the surface.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is playing in theaters. 

Grade:  C