The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most successful franchise in the history of cinema, and everybody wants a piece of the pie. Being able to build a huge franchise that makes the audience attached to a plethora of characters is not an easy task. So when Sony announced that the character of Venom would be getting his own movie, everybody was kind of unconvinced. Sony would be trying to build their own Spider-Man Universe in parallel to the MCU, but then it happened, the first Venom film was a huge success with audiences, even after very poor reviews from critics. There was no doubt that a sequel would be on the way, but does it have the chance to achieve the success of the first one, or will it drown at the box office?
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is directed by Andy Serkis, and it stars Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Harris and Michelle Williams. This sequel tells the story of Eddie Brock, trying to live with Venom, the alien attached to his body. When Cletus Kasady, a serial killer, gets his hand on an alien just like Brock’s, the depressed journalist shall rise to the occasion and finally be the hero everybody knows he can be.
The first Venom was thrashed by reviews left and right when it came out. The movie felt dated in every aspect. It felt like a movie made in the 90s or in the earlier 00s. Audiences didn’t care, and they went in masses to see the film, which collected tons of money at the box office. The sequel doesn’t deviate much from that dated feeling, but it might not be as enjoyable as the first. Thanks to a script that lacks surprises, good jokes and most of all, editing that makes the film feel rushed and incomplete even at the end.
Pacing is one of the most important elements in any film; If it is too slow, you will lose the audience by trying their patience. If it is too fast, the audience will feel like nothing really matters and the story and characters are just rushing to the end. Venom Let There Be Carnage falls right into the second category. When it ends, the movie feels inconsequential, more of a sidestep than a real step forward for the characters.
Venom 2 is bad, awful, really. There are a couple of good moments here and there, but there’s absolutely no space for the story to breathe and for the characters to do anything else than following the plot, and that plot is nothing to write home about. Things happen just because, and some characters feel absolutely useless. The short running time of the film and this faster than light pacing, makes it seem like there wasn’t really a story to tell with this film, and it was made just because.
Tom Hardy is having a hell of a time playing both Eddie and the voice of Venom, and he’s really the only element worth saving in the film. Every other member of the cast feels like they are on autopilot. This might not actually have been the situation on set, but it doesn’t matter, because the editing made a version of the story where they don’t really matter. Harrelson is a complete caricature, and Naomi Harris is barely in the film, and yet, we are supposed to get some sense of a relationship between hers and Harrelson’s character. That goal feels almost impossible to achieve in the way the movie is made. Michelle Williams also returns for maybe four or five scenes, and she feels totally wasted. Her whole subplot also comes out of nowhere, and it only serves a purpose at the end.
Andy Serkis is seated in the director’s chair, and at this point, it might be true to say that he just isn’t a good director. Every single one of his directing projects ends up being just OK or terrible. He might have learned and helped direct some stuff during his time in Middle Earth, but that experience just isn’t translating very well into his solo efforts. There might be a couple of sequences, including one in the middle of the film, filled with energy and competence, but the rest just feels uninspired and dull. Some creative choices are truly bizarre, and I have to say it again, they feel like they were made to fill space, as there was no real story to be told.
Visual effects are quite nice, and Venom and Carnage feel like real, tangible creatures in this movie. A sequence involving Carnage near the middle of the film might be the best in the film, and after seeing it, you would wish every other sequence could have that tone and energy. Sadly, the last act devolves into just another CGI fest, with monsters fighting inside a very convenient location and destroying the whole set while doing it.
The score by Marco Beltrami also feels lacking, with no real melody or memorable tunes. It is just another piece of the Venom dullness.
The post credit scene will be the only thing people talk about this movie, which already tells you just how wrong the movie is. Still, just like with the first film, some people will be able to find mindless fun in it. These movies could be so much more, though. Maybe in the future, the next installments can lean on copying the best from the 90s and 00s instead of bringing elements from that era that only make for a bad movie.