Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review


Movie poster for the new Venom movie

The public has gotten more comfortable with the COVID-19 pandemic and the box office is springing back to life. For months, films have been faltering in cinemas all over the world and only now are the studios starting to see some action. Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings recently broke the record for the highest pandemic box office gross but a new contender recently emerged in Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
The film is directed by Andy Serkis, best known for his motion-capture performances in the Planet of the Apes and Lord of the Rings franchises. He previously directed a film titled Breathe in 2017 and a Netflix adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book titled Mowgli. Serkis is new to the franchise, replacing Ruben Fleischer. While he primarily piggybacks on what Fleischer established and doesn’t bring much of his own directorial style, the movie does not falter.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is supremely entertaining, as its predecessor was. The film strikes a perfect balance of action, comedy, and drama and all of the actors deliver quality performances that keep the movie feeling authentic and fun. Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock, reporter for “The Daily Bugle” and the host of venom, a black, symbiotic parasite from space. As well as playing Brock, Hardy voices Venom, putting a comedic yet engaging relationship at the center of the movie as both roles are played by the same actor. Woody Harrelson returns from the first film’s post-credits scene as Cletus Kasady, a.k.a. Carnage and, while Michelle Williams and Reid Scott return as well, their roles are not as compelling.
The film follows Eddie Brock as he reports for the paper and simultaneously hosts Venom in his body. Venom is no easy house guest or body guest for that matter. He is preposterously difficult to put up with especially as Eddie attempts to investigate and report on the crimes of Kasady. In a series of unfortunate events, Kasady lands a bite on Eddie Brock and part of the symbiote transfers from one host to another creating, as Venom so comically says in the third act of the movie, “a red one.”
With Andy Serkis’ rich history of visual-effect work, the ones seen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage are stellar, particularly the realization of the symbiote creatures. They roar to life on screen but, while they look fantastic, audiences might not be satisfied with the amount of ‘Carnage’ they get to see. The sequel to the 2018 comic-book movie acts more as a Venom movie than a Carnage one and while that may be disappointing to some long-time Carnage fans, the relationship explored between Eddie and Venom is quite captivating. It makes up for the lack of the iconic villain and shows how relationships are truly the cornerstone of this movie.
The bickering that ensues between the two protagonists is wildly enjoyable. They feel like a romantic couple in a weird way that has the viewer rooting for them to stay together despite the utter chaos that arises when they are with one another. On the other end of the spectrum is Cletus Kasady and his wife Frances Barrison, also known as Shriek. Her nickname stems from her supernatural ability to manipulate sound at cataclysmic levels. The ability plays an interesting role in their dynamic as the symbiotes greatest weakness is loud sound. Though Eddie and Venom’s relationship has major issues, it is the other one that really puts things into perspective. An interesting yet problematic love triangle forms between Cletus, Frances, and Carnage as, when Cletus and Carnage are a single entity, she is simultaneously their greatest strength and weakness.
As expected, sound plays a very interesting role in the movie. The way it is depicted visually is stunning, adding another level of excitement to the action scenes featuring Shriek. The climax of the film takes place in a cathedral and naturally, a large bell dangles from the ceiling above. Of course, the bell ends up playing an integral role in the carnage, if you will, that occurs but the most interesting thing about the bell perhaps is the reference it makes to the first appearance of the Venom character in live-action, all the way back in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy. In 2007’s Spider-Man 3, the symbiote falls from the sky as it does in the first Venom movie though instead of clinging to Eddie Brock, it clings to Peter Parker and only later does the symbiote transfer from a distressed Parker to Brock in nothing other than a bell tower.
If audiences stick around until after the credits roll, they can expect an additional scene, a trend synonymous with the actual Marvel Studios’ itself and not the Spider-Man branch of Marvel established at Sony Pictures. Without giving anything away, the scene plunges Eddie and Venom into a scenario that people will be sure to find incredibly exciting for the characters and the universe they are in going forward. The future for Venom and his relationship with more prominent Spider-Man characters certainly look bright.
Ultimately, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a fun trip to the movies that is well worth it if you have not been to the multiplex since the pandemic commenced. However, if a trip to the theater for you is rare, other projects could certainly demand your viewership over this one. It does not do anything incredibly unique and it retreads many of the same beats as the first movie. Currently, it is hard for a sidebar Marvel project to feel significant outside of the behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Sony Marvel projects have proven that time and time again, but Let There Be Carnage is a joyous time that sets up some potentially really exciting situations where Venom can continue to thrive.