With the abundance of superhero films from various comic book and film companies, it has been quite an ordeal and Herculean task to create a unique and fresh take or perspective on an overly saturated genre. Many films have tried to achieve this over the past few years with a variety of end results as well. From Deadpool to Eternals, filmmakers have tried to create something different for fans to enjoy whether through a unique plot or stunning visuals. One film that tried to do so back in 2018 was Venom and despite receiving generally negative reviews went on to create another installment entitled Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
To be completely honest, I personally, along with some of the critics and fans, disliked the first installment of the Venom franchise. Don’t get me wrong I love the character and I honestly believe that when done right, Venom has the potential of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel universe. The direction of the first film however both in terms of its story (or the lack thereof) and the overall visual experience was a mediocre attempt that was frankly rooted to cope up with the grandeur of what the MCU has achieved so far. It failed miserably as it tried to juggle a darker tone and humor which sadly just didn’t land. I went into the cinemas to watch this sequel with an overall gracious disposition. I put the terrible experiences and personal opinions that I encountered with the first film behind me in order to give the film a much-needed second chance.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Overview
This sequel kicks off with a short exposition and background on our two main villains for the story, Cletus Kasedy/Carnage (Woody Harrelson) and Frances Barison/Shriek (Naomie Harris) as their antagonistic characteristics are shown back in 1996. The film then continues right where the first film left us with reporter Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote still one in a parasitic-host-like relationship. Brock, still struggling as a reporter and in life in general, visits the sadistic murderer, Cletus, in prison in order to get more information from his last killing spree with the hopes of getting a big break in his career. The truth along with altercations with Cletus lead to an unfortunate series of events that include the unification of Cletus with a symbiote of his own and eventually becoming the epitome of Carnage. Brock and Venom must come together to prevent the onslaught that Carnage is about to bring to San Francisco in his request for vindication and revenge.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” Review: Spoiler Warnings
This review as the title suggests sets to uncover the redeeming qualities of this sequel when compared side by side to its predecessor. In doing so we will tackle any improvements on the plot, character developments, and overall visual direction. There may be some moments in this review that may tend to be a bit spoiler-y so we urge you to proceed with caution especially for those who plan to watch the film in its entirety.
A Slight Improvement From Its Predecessor
The improvements despite being small and subtle, are enough to deliver a more engaging offering as this sequel doesn’t prolong the agony as much as the first film did. It delivers a pretty straightforward story that has a little more substance and a steady progression of events plot-wise. There is a fast-paced nature to the storyline that enables audiences to easily follow the story while providing ounces of depth which is just enough to pique our interest. The presence of key character background stories was enough to slightly elevate itself from the last film. Credit therefore must be given to the new direction provided by Andy Serkis who simultaneously builds on the cards that he was dealt with in a quest to bring some sense of continuity. Serkis was able to steer this franchise into a slightly positive direction with a very small and minuscule glimmer of hope for the future.
Goofy And Distracting Side-Stories
That being said there are still a lot of flaws that occurred along the way with an anti-hero story that took on too much and eventually became once again a goofy and insanely ridiculous tale. At the center of a superhero hero film is the most-anticipated confrontation between the hero and villain. This is the central archetype of such a genre but sadly this Venom sequel gets lost along the way due to its build-up. In an attempt to provide a unique element to the story, the road to what was supposed to be an epic showdown was simply put a painful journey altogether. The complicated nature of the Venom and Eddie Brock symbiosis was further pushed to its limits with an unnecessary romantic comedy direction that failed to produce laughs but instead instigated an overall cringe-like experience. The old married couple’s direction between the symbiote and host complete with a lover’s spat, break-up, and eventual make-up, was unbearable to watch. I could see the intended direction of this storyline especially towards the end of the film with Brock’s realization of their unique compatibility but the execution failed terribly.
There are a lot of unusual relationships in this film which may be the overarching theme of the Venom: Let There Be Carnage story to further highlight the unlikely bond between a parasite and host which later on becomes symbiotic in nature. The side story between Anne and Eddie also took a slight turn for the worse despite providing a better opportunity for Michelle William’s character to step up into the limelight. It felt like it was added to show a sense of continuity — fading into the background due to the Venom and Brock “love story”. The villain, Cletus Kasedy, also gets his shot at love with a wedding towards the end that didn’t really make much sense given the vengeful state of the villain who apparently has some time as well to tie the knot.
Ultimately all of these side stories distract us from the meat of this superhero film. They don’t add much as well to the overall story despite an attempt to do so towards the end. Once again, this film falls into the trap of over-complication. Their vision and direction could have been great if only the execution backed it all up.
A Far-Left Visual Direction For A Marvel Film
Darker-toned and themed films are far from easy to fully achieve. Take the Dark Knight Trilogy for example which is a great example of a brilliant offering of a dark and twisted take on a superhero film. Venom on the other hand land on the opposite side of the spectrum in relation to such a franchise. I don’t want to fully compare the two so let me pound on the errors and slight positive aspects of Venom’s darker take.
The visuals themselves are very consistent with an overall darker color grading and mood all throughout. The cinematic experience alone is well thought of and also capitalizes on the overall tone set by the first installment. The flaw arises when paired side by side with the conflicting story. This is where inconsistencies now seep in as they completely contradict one another. The dark tones are abandoned with the absurdity of the plot and in turn, set out to diminish the overall direction of the movie. The visuals seem like an afterthought attempt to create a serious-looking film that is heavily rooted in being laughable even in moments when it clearly doesn’t intend to be. It felt as if the movie and all those behind its inception were pressured to fit a square peg into a round hole while simultaneously doing so to become “creative”.
The Antagonist Outshines The Hero
The saving grace fell into the talented palms of Woody Harrelson whose villainous depiction of a psychotic murderer was just exceptional. This particular actor and role was the match made in heaven and the choice that made the most sense. As mentioned the backstory did help in elevating the understanding of the character but Harrelson’s portrayal was a huge boost for the film. The slight nuances and facial expression were able to paint a consistent demented nature for the character and despite some wacky plot points for the Kasedy, it managed to add vibrancy in a dark and twisted manner. The prison confrontation scenes between Kasedy and Brock are just a marvel to watch and for the most part, Harrelson showcased his consistent characterization all throughout the 90 minutes running time. Down to the last minute where Kasedy utters the line “I just wanted us to be friends” was proof of an unredeemable and broken mind that had no chance to be saved.
This isn’t to say that Tom Hardy didn’t do his part either with a solid performance as the puppet for the symbiote Venom. Admittedly, Hardy has had better days and performances even with his previous portrayal of the same character in the previous film. There were some slight inconsistencies this time around as Hardy seemed to be as confused with the split personalities of the character. The intentionality of these moments is questionable because if we opt to take a step back for knit picking every gesture and tone from Hardy, this could actually point to the slow progression of the two personalities merging into one.
Not A Closed Door For Venom After All
The final redeeming factor for this mess of a sequel comes in the form of its mid-credits scene. These brief seconds will give fans enough reason to once again be hopeful for the future of Venom. I will not dive into this spoiler-filled scene in order to respect those who haven’t seen the film and are still opting to see it, but all I’m going to say is that this is a huge game-changer.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review Verdict
As far as superhero movies go, Venom: Let There Be Carnage as a whole is a tad on the underwhelming side. Sure, the last few moments provide are the small silver linings for the future of the franchise but for this movie alone, it is certainly a low-ranking film by our books with the slew of superhero films that we have received this year alone. So to answer the question regarding its redemptive state, we would give it a yes for slight improvements but not enough for us to fully recommend this film as a whole. For Marvel fans, we recommend that you check it out just for the mid-credits scene (you can even opt to skip to this part alone) just because it provides a much-needed continuity and tie-up with the MCU. Beyond that it doesn’t really leave a long-lasting impact and to be brutally honest can be skipped out on altogether — doing so won’t be a loss on your part.
The future of this character and movie franchise is still up in the air but by the looks of it with that ending it may be promising depending on company negotiations and production plans. We will have to just wait and see how all of these will eventually unfold.
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