Venom: Let There Be Carnage

  • 16 Oct - 22 Oct, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

After the first film became a bigger hit than expected, gobbling up over $850m worldwide, a sequel was inevitably steered to the screen, with the original director, Ruben Fleischer, replaced by someone who knows all about duality: Andy Serkis. But while Serkis and the returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel have maintained the first film’s light zippiness and dated idea of cool, they’ve lost almost everything else, a pile of monster mush that should have been left in the lab.

Hardy, to his credit, works hard for that big paycheck yet again, not required to show off quite as much manic physicality as before but committing himself to the stupidity of it all with full vigour. This time around, his reporter Eddie Brock inadvertently transfers his alien-infused blood to a serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who escapes execution with the help of his newly acquired tentacles. Calling himself Carnage, he vows to track down Brock and Venom and also his long-lost love, Frances, AKA Shriek (Naomie Harris), whose scream is able to kill those unlucky enough to hear it.

It’s all far goofier than it sounds but while Marcel tries to up the ante from the last film in many ways, the mayhem wears thin far too soon. There’s a more pronounced lean into the humour of the Venom/Eddie dynamic but the film remains aggressively unfunny throughout, bar some decent sight gags, and so despite the alleged viciousness of Venom, it often feels like a film for kids who might find something dumb to laugh at among the gristle.

While Hardy emerges unscathed, he’s surrounded by actors who get precious little out of the film other than money towards a down payment on a new beach house. Harrelson tries to conjure up some of his Natural Born Killers malevolence but feels miscast for the role, acting younger to seem like he was at a reform school at the same time as his childhood sweetheart, played by the 15-years-younger Harris, who barely gets a look in. Williams understandably sleepwalks through the few scenes she has, much to the envy of us in the audience who are still awake, barely, for a finale that’s all sound and fury but no real fun.

It’s at least a short film, clocking it at around 90 minutes, Serkis chopping off any extraneous fat, but it floats by and floats on without ever causing us to sit up and pay attention. Let there be no more.

– Compilation