Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Spoiler Review


Image from Sony Pictures

Carnage from Columbia Pictures’ VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE.

Serial killer Kletus Casady (Woody Harrelson) wishes for investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) to let the public know his story before he is sentenced to death by lethal injection. In the final meeting with Brock before his ultimate demise, Kasady bites him and gets some of his symbiote, Venom, into his bloodstream. He breaks out, wreaking havoc on the city. Bonding with the symbiote, he is turned into Carnage.

Yet another film that has been continuously delayed by the pandemic is “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,”and it is at the same quality that was brought by its predecessor. The first film, which I believe wasn’t a good movie, was a substantially fun one. The sequel has so much more of the Eddie Brock and Venom dynamic that was a highlight before, and has also added to the action with the symbiotes.

Andy Serkis was a very odd choice to direct this film, but who better to direct a visual effects-heavy film than Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Caesar from “The Planet of the Apes” trilogy, and Supreme Leader Snoke from the sequel “Star Wars” trilogy? Something about the visuals in this film makes them pop out a lot more than they did to me in the first film, and I have a feeling that this was caused by the better lighting. Other than that, Serkis didn’t bring much of a unique vision to this sequel. The “filmed and released in the 1990’s sci-fi movie” aesthetic is still there, and this movie is still entirely aware of its ridiculousness.

Image from Sony Pictures

With a ninety-minute runtime, this movie could not feel more rushed. The breakneck pacing gives non-stop occurrences, quick and incomprehensible action and includes many sequences that have some of the most important parts of “show don’t tell” cut from them. Despite the missing pieces, it was still fun thanks to some off-the-rails performances by nearly the entire cast.

Tom Hardy isn’t going to win any awards for his performance as Eddie Brock, but he delivers something far more layered and superior to what this film as a whole asks for. The “old married couple” interactions they were going for at the beginning of the film have good and bad repercussions. On one hand, we get to spend a lot more time getting to know the  characters on their own before the inevitability of what happens during the post-credits scene. They double-down on what was great between Eddie and Venom in their “symbiotic” relationship. On the other, there were many instances where the dialogue had me laughing at the film and not with it. With the ending of the previous film leaving us with Venom biting a robber’s head off, I’m placed under the assumption that he is now a crime-fighting anti-hero. Yet the first two acts of this film are redundant in contradicting the way of being a crime-fighter.

Woody Harrelson definitely would not be my first pick to play serial killer Cletus Kasady, but what he’s doing here is nothing beyond having fun with a role that suits him. I’d go as far as to say that Carnage is a great villain in this film, and I enjoyed the unique way of showing his backstory through animation. However, he was annoyingly and stupidly killed off; at least this movie used their single “f-bomb card” very well. With the multiverse having brought everything to culmination in “Loki,” maybe Harrelson and Harris’ characters can return as variants in the future because the ironic “Natural Born Killers” relationship was a highlight. They go as far as they can with a PG-13 rating, and I was all there for it. There may not be a lot of carnage going on in the movie, but when these two finally get their iconic matchup brawl in the finale in an amazing church setting it is thoroughly entertaining. A small nitpick I have is that Carnage’s voice frequency is far off and should be higher pitched.

Image from Sony Pictures

Frankly, I was surprised that Naomie Harris’ Shriek never muttered the word “puddin’” once in the film, because she was perfecting a Harley Quinn San Diego Comic-Con cosplay impression. While I did have fun with the duo of her and Kasady, she is an awful standalone character. Her scenes that focused on her origins held down the movie while it was already too short. Whenever there’s more than one villain in a comic book film, one always gets short-changed, and it was undoubtedly going to be the one that wasn’t mentioned in the title. She needed more to do, and it’s fairly convenient that her powers are specifically what decommission Carnage’s. Stephen Graham’s detective character was also set up as a pivotal role in Shriek’s backstory, but he is never given anything to do. I couldn’t tell you anything about his character aside from the fact he’s half deaf and is being set up as the villain Toxin, from the comics, whom I currently have zero interest in. 

Michelle Williams and Reid Scott were likable the first time around, but to the viewer they were just “ex-girlfriend (with a horrible wig, not to mention)” and “ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.” I’m glad these two were legitimately helpful in the finale. I can’t believe I’m saying this for two regular people, but I hope that in the time Eddie Brock and Venom are hopping universes (I’ll get to the insane end-credits scene), these two aren’t wiped from existence in the process. 

The final scene of the film set during the end credits is quite obviously the main attraction when seeing this on the big screen. If not for that, I would not wholeheartedly recommend seeing this immediately. I’ve seen this twice in theaters now, and have never experienced a bigger audience reaction before, not even in “Avengers: Endgame.” The sole downside of it is that it made the entirety of each “Venom” film, including the one the viewer just sat through, completely pointless. In this scene, Venom is miraculously teleported to another universe with J. Jonah Jameson as he announces on the television that Spider-Man is responsible for Mysterio’s death, and that his real name is Peter Parker.

Image from Sony Pictures

“Morbius,” a Sony-produced Marvel movie, was initially supposed to come out prior to this film, and it included Michael Keaton’s Vulture in the trailer. That movie isn’t coming out until after “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and I’m slightly confused as to what Sony’s particular Marvel side-universe is going for. I don’t believe Venom will show up in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” because there’s already a lot going on with the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb “Spider-Man,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” films, but who’s to say. As a whole, this definitely felt like a filler movie to have more time getting to know Venom and have him face off against Carnage before letting him come in contact with Spider-Man.

Perhaps hype is the mind-killer. Looking forward to something for this long may make it destined to fail. I’m noticing I’ve liked this film a lot more than most people have, but I cannot deny the greatness of Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson in this film. It doesn’t seem to repeat all of the mistakes a second time around by leaving the first half of the film to do all of the exposition, but I realize we’re not fully past the threshold. I never would’ve thought a movie (somewhat) centrally focused on the conflict between Venom and Carnage would ever happen, let alone Carnage ever making it into live-action. With the open-ended conclusion, we will surely see Hardy back in the symbiote in the near future.


Final Grade: B-