Venom was popular enough to get a sequel, for better or worse. The first movie obviously had its fans, and some outrageous work by Tom Hardy. But, it also spent a lot of time on exposition. At least Venom: Let There Be Carnage can hit the ground running. It’s 90 straight minutes of Hardy and Venom’s double act.
Eddie Brock (Hardy) has been living with Venom for some time since he merged with the symbiote. Venom is a messy roommate but helps Eddie with his job when he’s not making trouble. Eddie is assigned to interview Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) in prison. Venom actually solves the case of Cletus’s serial killings with clues in his cell, sending Cletus to Death Row.
But, things are not harmonious between Eddie and Venom. Venom is hungry and Eddie won’t let him eat people. Venom feels Eddie doesn’t appreciate him and breaks up with him, looking for a new host. But, not before Eddie interviews Cletus one last time. Cletus bites Eddie, ingesting just enough symbiote to become Carnage.
Those last two paragraphs may look like a lot of exposition, but Venom: Let There Be Carnage breezes through it almost faster than it took to write it. Most of the film’s 90 minutes is filled with animated Hardy set pieces where Eddie struggles with Venom. That’s all Hardy and director Andy Serkis. They trust both Hardy’s performance and the visual effects artists to make what Hardy is doing look real.
They embrace the slapstick of it all. This isn’t a brooding superhero with his alter ego. This is the two stooges. Harrelson gets in on that action a bit, too. Venom 2 spends far less time with Cletus and Carnage. When it does, Harrelson relishes jumping on counters and kicking people.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage becomes a giant monster movie. Carnage fights cars and helicopters, like all the useless vehicles that have tried to stop Godzilla and King Kong over the years. Yes, it’s all big, loud visual effects but it’s a fun demolition derby.
Cletus is trying to reunite with his childhood sweetheart Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris). Frances has powers too. Her high pitched shrieks are loud enough to kill and send shockwaves. Unfortunately, Frances gets less to do than Carnage.
The meat of Let There Be Carnage is still the bromance between Eddie and Venom. They’re an odd couple. They get on each other’s nerves but they have to find each other again. Michelle Williams gets it. As Ann, Eddie’s ex, she has to discipline two rowdy children. She’s still with Dan (Reid Scott). So it’s fun that she’s back purely as a voice of reason, not a love interest.
Of course, this ultimately ends with two CGI creatures fighting each other. They still have fun with it, complete with scaling tall buildings. Venom’s commentary is highly entertaining throughout the movie. He’s the Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Beavis and Butt-Head commentary on comic book movie tropes. Maybe not as insightful, but it’s still fun to hear a main character criticize the formula that’s industry standard at the moment.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is still excessive junk, but it’s fun trash. It seems to know what it is and emphasizes the most fun aspects of this franchise. You could do worse than watching Tom Hardy go wild for 90 minutes. And you could do worse with other Tom Hardy movies, so Venom 2 is a fun time right now.
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