Venom: Let There Be Carnage (USA, 2021)

Marvel’s “lethal predator” is back and this time, he’s about to get a taste of “carnage” in this more fast-paced sequel.

Eddie Brock and his alter ego Venom have been living somewhat happily. However, due to recent actions, Venom is forced to eat chickens rather than humans. Eddie is about to get his first big break in a long time when he meets serial killer Cletus Kasady, who is serving a death row sentence. When an incident forces Venom to go too far and attack Cletus, the killer bits Eddie and tastes his blood. Finally, having had enough, Eddie forces Venom to split with him. But that’s about to become a big mistake.

While waiting to be executed, Cletus undergoes a transformation and soon becomes a monster known as Carnage. Breaking out of prison, Carnage helps Cletus go to Ravencroft Institute to find the woman he considers his bright light. The woman in question is Frances Barrison, who has become a mutant known as Shriek. Together, Shriek and Carnage hatch a plan to get even with Eddie and the cop responsible for nearly killing Shriek years ago. Can Eddie and Venom get over their differences to stop the menaces before it’s too late?

2018’s Venom was a surprise film thanks in part to Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock and his symbiotic alter ego. This sequel has the notion of being directed by Andy Serkis, the iconic motion capture expert, who brings his experience to once again showcase Hardy as both Eddie and Venom but add to the mix the great Woody Harrelson as serial killer Cletus Kasady and his alter ego, Carnage. Once again taking the Venom: Lethal Predator storyline and meshing it with the Maximum Carnage comic line, this is quite a fun sequel.

This time around, the film shows Eddie and Venom having a rift with their bromance. Venom still wants to do his thing and eat bad guys, but Eddie warns Venom they have to keep things on the down low. Michelle Williams’ Anne returns as well and despite Eddie’s shocking reaction to her engagement to doctor Dan, Eddie wants Anne to be happy, but it is Venom who clearly doesn’t want Anne to leave him. This is possibly perhaps because Anne and Venom had a bond in the previous film. As for Naomie Harris, she seems to make the most of her screen time as Shriek, but having it mostly spent locked up seemed redundant and then really comes to life once Carnage/Cletus helps her escape.

If there is a reason why this film isn’t as good as the original, it is because at 97 minutes, the film feels a bit rushed when compared to the original. It seems like that they wanted to bring a complementary juxtaposition between the relationships between Eddie and Venom and Cletus and Carnage. However, if there was more development in terms of the latter and bringing a bit more in terms of the rift between the former and then meshing it with the Shriek and Anne subplots, it would be better. The final battle between the symbiotes and their hosts seem like a replay of the first film, where we see the symbiotes in action before a brief hand to hand scuffle between their human hosts before back to their combinations in the film.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is not as good as the original. However, it is still watchable despite feeling a bit rushed when compared to the story development of the original.

WFG RATING: B-

A Columbia Pictures production in association with Marvel. Director: Andy Serkis. Producers: Avi Arad, Tom Hardy, Kelly Marcel, Hutch Parker, Amy Pascal, and Matt Tolmach. Writers: Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy. Cinematography: Robert Richardson. Editing: Maryann Brandon and Stan Salfas.

Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Peggy Lu, Sian Webber.

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