To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an antihero buddy comedy film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is the sequel to Venom and the second film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSMU). The film is directed by Andy Serkis from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy. The film stars Hardy alongside Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, and Woody Harrelson. A couple of years after the events of the first film, Eddie Brock tries to reignite his career in journalism by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady. Before his execution, an altercation with Brock leads to Kasady becoming the host of his own alien symbiote named Carnage and escaping. Leaving Brock and Venom to take down this new deadly threat before he kills more people.
Many people had issues with Venom because they felt that the film was trying too much to be like other superhero films. When Andy Serkis came on to direct, he felt that to make the sequel better than the first he would focus on the action and remove much of the fluff to make a tighter shorter film. While I enjoy Andy Serkis’ directing style and I think he helped with improving the motion capture for the Venom and Carnage symbiotes, I do believe that he sacrificed too much of the story to try and make this film better. There are so many plot points that are dropped and never returned to. Certain character connections are glossed over and barely given time to grow. Some of Carnage’s powers, such as creating a tornado and interacting with computers, while evident in some of the comics, are not explained in this film. Neither is the power difference between Carnage and Venom, in terms of what they can do. Maybe this has to do with the personality of their hosts or maybe the fact that Carnage eats human brains makes him stronger, as brains giving him an energy boost is alluded to but never made concrete.
Another aspect of this film that hurts it is the PG-13 rating. This film should have had an R rating, with a lot more visible blood and guts, especially when introducing the bloodthirsty serial killer Kasady and his symbiote Carnage. The film feels like a watered-down version of what it should have been and that does not sit well. Many great R-rated superhero films have made money at the box office such as Deadpool, Logan, Watchmen, and Blade. In terms of franchise building, Deadpool, Logan are a part of the X-Men franchise where all the other films are PG-13. Something Sony should have taken into account when figuring out their SSMU. What makes this unsettling is that Sony is a studio that knows how to make good movies on its own. Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are perfect examples of this.
Once again Tom Hardy gives it his all as Eddie Brock and Venom. Like the first film, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a bromance between these Eddie and Venom. They undoubtedly have a hard time getting along but in reality, they do need each other and it’s great. They are the only thing that works in this film and it would be nice to see them be a part of a franchise that can use them appropriately. More on that later. The other characters in this film feel one-note and like they were there to collect a paycheck. This is especially evident with Michelle Williams’ Anne. At no point do I feel like her character had much to do with the story other than to talk to Eddie about their failed relationship. We don’t get to see their friendship grow in any way after how the previous film ended for them. In actuality, her new boyfriend Dan, played by Reid Scott, is a lot better for her than Eddie could ever be. That being said Dan steals the show whenever he comes onscreen. He has very comedic lines even though he has very few. He manages to help save the day and a surprise encounter that nobody in the theater will expect.
Woody Harrelson is fine as Carnage but it is not a performance that I would say blew me away. Harrelson’s performance is similar to his character Mickey Knox from Natural Born Killers. He is goofy and crazy, but at the end of the day, only here to be the bad guy. There isn’t much nuance to his motives other than getting his girlfriend back. In the comics, Kasady was a deranged killer and was 100% in sync with his symbiote making them an effective killing machine. More time should have been spent on his backstory as it would’ve made him a more sympathetic villain. The worst of the film worst is Naomie Harris as Shriek. Her character is unnecessary for this film and her acting is just awful. Her character sounds similar to Tia Dalma from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and it just doesn’t fit. She has less backstory than Kasady which makes it hard for the audience to be attached to their relationship. There’s an allusion to that that she is a Mutant, which she is in the comics, but there are no other characters with powers in this film besides her, Eddie Brock, and Kasady. For a studio that is supposed to be building a shared universe, it would make sense to put more hints of the connectivity these characters share. Unless a new universe is being built after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and the events of this movie don’t essentially matter, like Deadpool 2.
Now we’re getting into some spoiler territory, but at the end of Venom: Let There Be Carnage there is a post-credits scene that shows Venom and Eddie being transported into the MCU. We are not sure if this takes place because of the events in Loki, What If…?, Spider-Man: No Way Home, or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but it is clear that things are going to be different moving forward for all Marvel films and hopefully this is a good thing.
This film should’ve been an R-rated blood fest and the route they went sadly neutered the film’s potential to be a better sequel. With how this film ended I’m sure that we will get a third film in this franchise, however, I am way beyond caring about this character or his franchise at this point. I give Venom: Let There Be Carnage a Horrible 2.5/10. Maybe now that Venom and Spider-Man can interact onscreen together this franchise can be salvaged but I highly doubt it. Hopefully, Sony knows what they’re doing and Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, and Spider-Woman give us the answers we need and gets this universe on track.