Sunday, October 3, 2021

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I wasn't the biggest fan of 2018's Venom which often didn't even attempt to make its plot coherent. The new sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage isn't a big improvement over the first film, but when it embraces its craziness it does offer more fun. Sadly, as with the first film, one of the big failings of the sequel is the writing which takes forever to get the plot moving and, for some inexplicable reason, even abandons its most successful aspect of the series by separating Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and the symbiote for an extended period this time around.

Venom and Eddie work together because they're both losers. Seriously lame losers. Their problems stem from the fact they are able to each see the other's failings but not always their own allowing for a one-man odd couple relationship to provide some uniquely weird sequences.

The titular villain this time around is Carnage, created when death row inmate Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) gets his own symbiote and uses it to break out of prison, find his long lost love (the equally crazy Frances Louise Barrison played by Naomie Harris), and target Venom and Eddie's former girlfriend (Michelle Williams, who I can only assume was blackmailed into doing the sequel). Just as crazy as Cletus, Frances just so happens to also have the one super-power that proves quite useful in fighting a symbiote. How shocking.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage works best when highlighting the dysfunctional inner-relationship of Venom, but its choice to play thing safe with the character (both when it is tied to, and removed from, Eddie) puts a ceiling on the amount of murderous fun he can get into. That leaves Carnage to create the, er, carnage. When not hidden behind special effects, Harrelson seems to be channeling his Natural Born Killers character from three decades ago, but the script doesn't leave enough room or screentime for Cletus and Frances to get into any real craziness after finally getting these crazy lovebirds back together. While providing some fun moments, Venom: Let There Be Carnage feels mostly like a wasted opportunity which turns out to be completely overshadowed by the film's mid-credit sequence pushing Venom into a shared universe.

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