Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence & offensive language
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom
Michelle Williams as Anne Weying
Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison/Shriek
Reid Scott as Dan Lewis
Stephen Graham as Patrick Mulligan
Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady/Carnage
Director: Andy Serkis
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is still struggling to coexist with the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Venom. When deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) also becomes host to an alien symbiote, Brock and Venom must put aside their differences to stop his reign of terror.
After waiting for just under 2 months longer than most countries, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is finally here in cinemas. I’ve actually been very looking forward to it. I enjoyed the Venom movie released back in 2018, however it definitely had some issues, especially on my more recent rewatch. With the addition of actors like Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris and Andy Serkis as the director, I was interested to see how it would turn out. I was at least hoping that it would learn its lessons from the previous film and work to its strengths, and I’m happy to say that it does.
The story isn’t anything special, its surface level and simplistic but its functional. Had it been more complicated it might’ve ended up being a detriment to the rest of the film. One element of the first Venom that could’ve been improved on is the tone. A big surprise is that it had a lot of campy elements which were some of the stronger stuff, unfortunately it felt like it couldn’t decide whether to be campy or to be serious, and jumps between the two. Venom: Let There Be Carnage fixes this issue. It doesn’t take itself seriously, its darkly comic and silly and it knows what it is. I was thoroughly enjoying the movie from beginning to end. Another strong element of the first film was the dynamic between Eddie Brock and Venom, which was entertaining but felt rushed. This again is utilised to its fullest potential in the sequel, in fact Let There Be Carnage is essentially a romantic comedy between the two. The relationship between them is handled with confidence, each of them felt like individual beings with a connection, and it felt believable. In the movie they have relationship issues and friction between them, with Eddie wanting to have a normal life, while Venom wanting to be the hero along with eating people. Its strangely wholesome and heartfelt at times, I could watch 10 movies of just Eddie and Venom interacting. Another way it noticeably improves is in the runtime considerably less than Venom’s 1 hours 50 minute runtime, instead at under 100 minutes in length. As I said, it’s a pretty tight plot, there’s not an ounce of fat and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. All I’ll say about the mid-credits scenes is that its worth sticking around for.
Tom Hardy is back as Eddie Brock/Venom and is wonderfully bonkers and fun to watch. These movies wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without Hardy’s commitment to the role. Eddie and Venom are likable and fun to watch, especially when they are interacting with each other. A disappointing area with the first Venom was the villain, but it improves on it here with Carnage, one of Spider-Man/Venom’s most famous villains in the comics. Woody Harrelson plays Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who acquires a symbiote from Venom and is even more dangerous than Venom. While Kassidy is not much more complex than Carlton Drake in the first Venom, Harrelson’s gleefully maniacal performance makes him fun to watch and a highlight of the sequel. Naomie Harris is also here as a villain named Shriek. Like everyone else in the movie, Harris knows what kind of film she’s in, and hams it up effectively. To a degree she was underused, but she was entertaining in her screentime. Stephen Graham is in this movie as a detective investigating Cletus Kasady, while it’s a stock detective part, Graham is quite good in his part. Michelle Williams is back from the first movie as Eddie’s ex-fiancée Anne, it’s a thankless role and she’s probably given the worst material out of anyone in the movie but she plays it well.
Andy Serkis is here as a director and that had me very interested. I like him as an actor and I liked his previously directed movie Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, but its his understanding and experience with CG characters which had me most interested in him directing. He put that to great use, and on a technical level its also better than the first movie. The cinematography is from Robert Richardson of all people, and this movie certainly looked really good, a cool aesthetic with great lighting and colour grading. There’s particularly a scene in a cathedral which caught me off guard. The CGI was a lot better compared to the first movie, it could still be a mess at times but its more comprehendible here. Venom looks good as always but the highlight with the effects is when it comes to Carnage. First of all the design while somewhat similar to Venom is different beyond being a different colour. He’s shown to be distinctly different in terms of powers and is shown to be a real threat, and the film conveys that greatly. The moment when you see Carnage on screen for the first time, it was a great introduction. The action scenes are enjoyable and are easier to comprehend. While you don’t see Venom and Carnage fight for much of the film, when they do it was satisfying and enjoyable to watch, certainly helping that this time they are identifiable and you can see what is going on with them. I was hesitant with the movie having a PG-13/M rating considering how violent Carnage is in the comics (he is a serial killer after all). However Serkis pulls it off quite well, it definitely borders on the R rating but does just enough.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage was much better than I was expecting. It learns the lessons from the first film and made the follow up way better. It leans into the campiness and is enjoyable for that, it has a stronger focus on the Eddie/Venom dynamic, and its visually stunning and the action is enjoyable. I’m looking forward to Venom’s next on screen appearance, whenever that will be.