Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Might contain spoilers.
Like Venom , this is a very silly movie. Unlike Venom, this one is tolerably fun, though… grosser. It builds on the partly-unintentional absurdity of Venom, exhibiting some control and achieving moderate success. Highlighting the queerness of the Eddie-Venom relationship is smart: Venom the creature has evolved from the killing machine that first infected Eddie into a modern Internet dweller, while Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock attains new heights of ridiculousness, as inadequate as that word is. As Film School Rejects hilariously puts it:
Hardy impishly captures Eddie Brock’s internal hell. He signed up for the Marx Brothers shenanigans, selling pratfalls triggered by an invisible hand with deranged abandon. You fear for his sanity; he feels trapped and chained to this film as much as Eddie feels tethered to the creature. Those who relished the actor splashing in a lobster tank and cracking into crustaceans in the first movie are deeply rewarded by the deplorable depths the sequel’s director, Andy Serkis, plunges Hardy.
Grotesque absurdity is Venom: Let There Be Carnage‘s friend. Many sophomoric giggles are scored when Anne (Michelle Williams), Eddie Brock’s former flame, invites him to dinner only to unload a king-sized engagement ring from Doctor Dan (Reid Scott). While Eddie tries to process the development, the Venom within never shuts up, rattling off a string of homicidal solutions. Williams is playing straight, fulfilling her contractual obligation, and Hardy is acting in seven different films in the span of one sentence.
I’ve never been impressed by Naomie Harris, and that remains unchanged. When it comes to her character, Frances has been moulded by the institute she was in for decades, but Cletus’s psychopathy just seems to be a natural inclination (notwithstanding the weak attempt to show he was being abused by the family he killed). Woody Harrelson is wasted a bit in the role, and he was right to be concerned that his voice for Carnage might be too silly. I did forget he’s nearly 60:
In 1996, a teenage Kasady falls in love with a young Frances Barrison, who has the power to unleash destructive sonic waves from her mouth. Frances is transferred to the Ravencroft Institute to study her powers, and Kasady never sees her again. 25 years later, Kasady has aged 45 years and uses his newfound symbiote to escape his execution.
The fight in the cathedral starts with the only impressive images of Carnage. There’s no reason for Venom to stop using tentacles there except to force him into the role of the underdog, of course. Meanwhile, it’s convenient that Carnage can use his tentacles to break into computers and scour the Internet for information.
Stephen Graham as Detective Mulligan makes me laugh every time he’s onscreen. It’s hard to believe he’s meant to be taken seriously. Apparently, his eyes lighting up at the end herald his imminent transformation into another antagonist.
Anne flirting with Venom inside the shopkeeper to persuade him to help Eddie is amusing. Meanwhile, it was clever to incorporate the unexpected roving helicopters into the scene at Coit Tower:
While Eddie is holed up at Coit Tower trying to find Cletus, several helicopters pass by looking for Venom and Carnage. This was actually not planned; the helicopters flying by were actually part of the shoot for The Matrix Resurrections (2021), which was filming in the same part of San Francisco as Let There Be Carnage during their shoots. Instead of waiting for a clearer shot, Andy Serkis thought it would make sense for helicopters to be roving around during the scene and left it, adding additional dialogue by Tom Hardy in ADR afterward to mention them.
All told, I would prefer not to see this Venom in the MCU, even if his origin in a different universe would go some way to justifying the difference in tone.