"Venom: Let There Be Carnage" stars Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, and Naomie Harris. Released on October 1, 2021, the film has Eddie Brock and Venom facing off against Carnage.
The film is directed by Andy Serkis, who also directed "Breathe" and "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle", and it is a sequel to the 2018 superhero film, "Venom". Are you still hungry for more Marvel goodness after chowing down on Shang-Chi so many times? Don't worry. The lethal protector has you covered. It's the beginning of October, which means it's time for Spider-Man's greatest foe to take charge in frightening (and entertaining) his audience. The anti-hero made his first standalone movie in 2018 after his disappointing debut in "Spider-Man 3". Despite receiving some harsh reviews, it became a box office beast, earning over $800 million worldwide. Keep in mind that that's without the presence of your friendly neighborhood web-crawler. This resulted in Sony fast-tracking a follow-up and an expansion of its own Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I can admit that the first "Venom" film was pretty rough regarding its story and direction, I was able to get some enjoyment out of it due to Tom Hardy's performance, the humor, and the designs for the symbiotes. So it's no surprise that I was looking forward to its sequel, especially since they got mo-cap master Andy Serkis to direct it, along with Mr. Nightmare Fuel himself, Carnage. Were they able to help this superhero sequel improve on the original, or is it time for us to send the symbiotes back into space? Let's find out.
The story takes place three years after the events of its predecessor. Eddie Brock (Hardy) struggles to put his life back together while keeping the alien symbiote Venom under control. He sees an opportunity to reignite his investigative journalism career by interviewing Cletus Kasady (Harrelson), a psychotic serial killer who's held in prison and awaiting his execution. When Kasady bit Eddie's hand and ingested a part of Venom, he became the host of a symbiote spawn known as Carnage, who proved to be just as dangerous as Kasady is. A personality fit for a lunatic. When Cletus and Carnage escape to wreak havoc and rescue Kasady's love interest Frances Barrison (Harris), Eddie and Venom will have to cooperate once again to save the city from their murderous rampage. "Venom" offered a balance between brooding, creepiness, and humor that's suitably fitting for the anti-hero's personality. However, because of Ruben Fleischer's direction and its restrictive PG-13 rating, it failed to go all out with that balance. You know, for the sake of the young Venom fans. "Let There Be Carnage" maintained the same tone and rating as the original but with more emphasis on the humor. You know, for the Marvel kids. With Andy Serkis on board as director and the appearance of Carnage, you would think that this could be one of the few sequels that rise above their predecessors, especially the ones in the superhero genre. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The sequel recaptured the elements that audiences loved from "Venom", such as its amusing humor, the action scenes, and the symbiote designs. However, it also maintained the stuff that people did not like from the first film, including its storytelling and direction towards the character moments. To my slight surprise, they happened to be a tad weaker than the flaws in the original. This was primarily due to its inconsistent pacing and choppy editing. When it comes to the pacing, "Let There Be Carnage" was as chaotic as two CGI blobs mashing themselves together onscreen. There was barely any time for me to catch my breath and bask in the character-driven scenes in-between the action. While it does help in keeping the audience's attention, it can also cause them to lose interest in the characters, whether they're in battle or not. Its story expanded the "odd couple" relationship between Eddie and Venom, which was one of the best parts of the film, in my opinion. But the execution towards this direction and its tone felt pretty rough around the edges. Not to mention laughable in a not-so-good way. These flaws kept this superhero sequel from reaching the potential of getting a freshly cooked meal after a tasteless appetizer. However, I will admit that I had a fun time watching this muddled and frantic mess of a film. It's not something that's going to change the superhero film industry or anything like that. Still, it did provide some enjoyment in seeing Eddie and Venom bicker at one another like a married couple. Once again, Tom Hardy managed to save the film from becoming symbiote food thanks to his committed performance as Eddie and Venom. The jittery essence in Brock's personality and some of Venom's funniest dialogue in the franchise so far still proved to be a match made in heaven regarding the superhero genre and Hardy himself. Woody Harrelson followed suit with his crazy yet unsettling portrayal of Kasady and Carnage, and Naomie Harris proved to be a decent addition to the cast as Frances (also known as "Shriek" by Marvel fans). The action scenes involving the symbiotes were what you expect from a "Venom" sequel: intense, absurd, fun, and heavy on CGI. The only difference is that the action in "Let There Be Carnage" was better than the first film. The final battle in "Venom" was cool and all, but the darkly lit setting made it difficult to see what was going on. Here, they managed to fix the lighting for the audience to see the chaos surrounding the two symbiotes clearly. Thank goodness. Yes, they're silly and full of mayhem, but hey, so are the rest of the superhero films.
Overall, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" has enough fun and carnage to keep its host alive, but it also lacks a stronger narrative to satisfy its hunger. It'll surely impress people who enjoyed its predecessor due to its cast, humor, and action. Unfortunately, it didn't provide anything else beyond its psychotic and energetic state for those hoping for it to be better than the original. With its average storytelling, pacing issues, and middling direction from Andy Serkis, this superhero sequel is far from lethal. Also, make sure you stay for its mid-credit scene. It'll blow your mind like how it did to mine.