VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
The first Venom is an anomaly to me. I can’t wrap my head around why so many people paid hard earned money on that movie and told other people to do the same. There were several people who told me to watch it and defended its poor quality, to which I did watch it and never listened to their recommendations again. Yet somehow, Marvel’s symbiote infected many moviegoers, and now we have a sequel. Ugh, someone get me some Tylenol.
As teased in the original film, this story focuses on Carnage, a fan-favorite maniac that Spider-Man fans love due to how extremely dark and twisted the character can be, but since this is a PG-13 movie, Carnage, or the person that houses him Cleetus Kasady, never does anything too outlandish. His ultimate evil plan is to…kill Eddie Brock and Venom. There’s also a weird love story crammed in there too, but that’s the gist of the overall plot. Speaking of love stories, Eddie and Venom are having a bit of a relationship problem and are trying to find a way to live in a harmonious, symbiotic life together. If you think it’s weird that I’ve mentioned love stories and relationships an odd number of times while discussing the plot to a Venom movie, I too think the same as you. This movie is weirdly a romantic comedy with the outer coating of an action/sci-fi monster movie. Needless to say, it’s weird. But I think that’s one thing this movie has that one-ups the previous one. It knows what kind of a movie it wants to be, and it sticks to its guns--no matter how strange it gets--and fully embraces its goofy premise. It’s level of quality will probably depend on your sense of humor. I believe there were more comedic moments than dark and violent ones, so don’t expect an action-packed thrill ride. It’s a bold move from the previous film, but whereas I think that filmed failed due to its lack of vision, this movie fails from understanding what the audience wants. I would have much preferred a darker, more horror-themed movie, especially with a monstrous foe such as Carnage, but to me, the story felt disappointing with its odd choice of direction. I don’t think this is a bad time per se (It’s only an hour and a half long, so I wasn’t completely offended that I wasted my time with it compared to the last one.), but it’s certainly an odd pairing of genres that created something unique, that may or may not be to your liking.
With director Andy Serkis at the helm this time around, we were bound to get some cool performances with special effects. Why do I say that? Because Serkis performed the motion captures for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, King Kong in…well…King Kong, Caesar from the latest Planet of the Apes trilogy, and many more. The man has lived in the world of visual effects, and he shows off his knowledge of the craft in this film. There’s a fun interaction between Eddie and Venom in an apartment that is a personal highlight for me. Speaking of fun, I’m pretty sure that’s what Serkis told every actor in every scene–"just have fun!" In the first installment, I felt as though there were many actors who were going through the motions, not entirely sure which direction to take their characters. Here, everyone gets to be goofy, and they roll with it. I wouldn’t say there are any stand out performances, since the script isn’t the most intelligently written screenplay (to put it mildly), but everyone appears to be having a good time, especially Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson. Hardy absolutely loves the character, and it shows. Like last time, he plays both Eddie and voices Venom, and the interactions this time around have more playfulness to them, which results in some quite funny physical humor and dialogue. Harrelson surprised me the most, because I originally scoffed at the idea that he would play one of the most sinister and downright evil villains in the Marvel comics, but he brought out his crazy side and impressed me. I wish he was given a bigger role or at least a grander motivation other than “I need to kill the hero because I’m a killer and that’s what I do”. But nonetheless, he did a good job. Despite the lackluster script, the actors put on a good performance and made the audience laugh quite a bit, and if anything, this movie is a good time to be had, especially with friends.
With Serkis directing, I had high hopes for some really unique visual effects. Unfortunately, I felt as though this movie didn’t fully realize its potential. Outside of a funny sequence of Venom causing havoc in an apartment, there wasn’t anything too impressive here. The ending felt similar to the finale of the last movie, where it’s just two CGI blobs duking it out, although I will give it more credit since the setting of the climax was a little more unique. There are two scenes of Carnage going on a rampage that unfortunately felt lacking for me. Because of the PG-13 rating, Carnage pretty much just grabs stuff and throws them at people, or he grabs people and throws them at stuff. Nothing he does makes him feel much different from Venom aside from a different color and a slender look. I’m not saying the visuals are bad per se. Effects artists definitely worked many long, hard hours on this movie, but there wasn’t a moment that wowed me with its spectacles. Most of the visuals were so cartoony and used for ridiculous scenarios that none of it felt tangible. From Venom giving the middle finger in his stringy pile of goo form to his antics at a party, this felt more like something I’d see on an adult animated show rather than a must-see blockbuster.
The idea of a movie based on one of Spider-Man’s most iconic frenemies is a good one, but unfortunately, both films fail to stick a superhero landing. This sequel shows signs of improvement and addresses some of what I didn’t like about the original. However, even with the small improvements, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is venomous to your time and money.
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