Venom Let There Be Carnage Review: Good Performances/Presentation Makes This Monstrous Sequel Stick!
Updated: Oct 8
2018 was a major year for the Spider-Man franchise. The series saw the Wall Crawler play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War and broke new ground with the animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Yet the franchise had more to offer that year by bringing one of Spider-Man's most popular enemies to big screen in the spin-off film Venom. While the movie was not as gritty as I would have hoped, it was certainly entertaining and thanks to its energetic delivery and solid protagonist. Despite receiving poor reviews, Venom was a hit with moviegoers and grossed over $800 million in the box office-which was a record for the month of October. This was enough incentive for the studio to move forward with a sequel, and after a change in directors and several delays the Lethal Protector finally returns to silver screen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
The new movie centers on Eddie Brock/Venom (Tom Hardy) who must put their differences aside to stop Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) who, after an encounter with Eddie, transforms into the notorious symbiote Carnage. Reuben Fleischer (director of the first film) was unable to return for the sequel so helming the new movie is none other than filmmaker and acclaimed actor Andy Serkis. Along with Serkis in the director's chair, the movie also had a fluctuating release as it jumped from fall to summer to fall again. It was not until the eleventh hour where movie would finally cement its release and swung into theaters at the beginning of October. Between the wait and featuring one of Marvel’s most iconic villains (and a personal favorite of mine), there was plenty of excited for in this dark superhero film; and while it was far from exceeding my expectations, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was very much an exhilarating sequel.
The movie featured a tense tale with some conflicting elements. The plot was split into two narratives with one following Venom and the other centering on Carnage. While the plot does its best to emphasize both tales, its execution left much to be desired. This issue was due to the plot’s structure which was too straightforward and rushed certain plot points. Despite its faults, the plot had plenty of merit to keep me invested. The personal element seen in Eddie/Venom’s story was commendable and while the threat of Carnage could have been bigger, it was still a thrilling aspect and gave the story a monster movie vibe. All of this culminated in finale that was exciting and worthy of not just Venom, but superhero movies in general.
Along with the crazy plot was a cast that was small but effective. Tom Hardy shined in the first film as both Eddie Brock and Venom, and it was good to see the actor was in rare form in this sequel. The duality in Hardy’s performance was infectious and the chemistry he created between Eddie and Venom solidified his portrayal as one of the best in modern superhero films. While the performance was sound the development of both Eddie and Venom needed some work The movie expands on new aspects for both characters, particularly Brock, but it does not go far enough with these developments and their relevance to the overall film. Along with the strong lead was a decent supporting cast. Seeing the likes of Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) again was enjoyable, even if she did not offer much to the story, while new characters such as Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris) made for an interesting addition to the cast-though I wish Shriek had little more time to develop. Finally, there was Woody Harrelson as Cletus/Carnage. When it came to Kasady, Harrelson brought his usual charm to the serial killer, but what was more impressive was Harrelson as the Carnage Symbiote. The cunning demeanor of Carnage was not only intimidating but was completely alien to anything Harrelson has done in the past; and in my book that was nothing short of impressive.
When it came to aspects such as effects, Let There Be Carnage was efficient in its presentation. The cinematography could be inconsistent in places but, overall, managed to give the movie a distinctive look. The effects were particularly impressive especially when it came to symbiotes. In the first film the symbiotes were creative in their execution and the new film was no different in this aspect as the monster effects were crisp in both design and delivery. Along with the solid effects the movie also featured action that was gritty, imaginative and appropriate for a movie such as this one. Rounding things out was of course the music by Marco Beltrami. While it may not have had the impression of Ludwig Goransson’s compositions, the music was still fitting as Beltrami brought a horror element to this twisted sequel.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a monstrous, albeit simple, sequel. While its story needed more work and the direction could be abrupt in place, this movie had plenty to offer thanks to its stellar performances, impressive visuals and exhilarating action. In some ways this movie not only lived up to its predecessor but even exceeded it-though that margin is a slim one. While it may not have been the most groundbreaking of sequels. Venom: Let There Be Carnage was a fitting continuation for the Lethal Protector and, at the very least, a venomous blockbuster to enjoy this season.