Venom: Let There Be Carnage CPE
Venom: Let There Be Carnage – 2021

Director Andy Serkis
Screenplay Kelly Marcel
Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Woody Harrelson

In the pantheon of comic book movies, the worst type of film is the one where the antagonist kidnaps someone and dangles them as bait for the hero to rescue. Unfortunately for those who were looking for a creative spark with Andy Serkis’ direction of the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Junior League, this is all they had going for them in Venom’s second film.

The film starts with a prologue about young Cletus Kasady and his girlfriend Shriek. As adults we find that they’ve been separated. Kasady (Harrelson) is on death row, thanks to reporting by Eddie Brock (Hardy). Shriek (Watts) has been shot by Detective Mulligan (Graham), who believes her to be dead. Brock is invited to go visit Kasady before he is sent to the chair. Anyone who has seen even one of the commercials for this film knows what happens.

In an unnecessary plot diversion, Venom and Eddie fight and separate. Will they get back in time to save the world from Carnage? Well, yes. But we get to see a monotony of computer graphic fight scenes until then.

This film is a mess. I didn’t want it to be. Everything it has going for it, Hardy, Harrelson, Williams, Watts and even Stephen Graham is all muted by the loud special effects. There are several attempts at developing character moments, especially with the odd couple routine between Brock and Venom. Most of these feel forced, like a bad Muppets routine. There are no successful attempts at scene building and the film feels heavily edited.

The shame of it is, they really do have something of a great cast. If they were able to make a film built slowly, with any amount of tension, it would feel like they were trying to entertain their audience. Instead, the feeling is that of waiting for the inevitable moment when this universe gobbles up Spider-Man. If it does, there is a real fear that they may just bring that good series down to the depths they reach here.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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