Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage ★★★

Eddie, we should be out there snacking on bad guys! I am a predator! I need to be free.

After the events of the first film, Eddie Brock is trying to regain his footing in his career of journalism while still dealing with Venom in his body. He interviews serial killer Cletus Kasady to get whereabouts to his victims bodies and to confirm his crimes. Kasady on the other hand is trying to reconnect with his childhood friend, Frances Barrison. He becomes one with Carnage moments before his execution and he can now carry out his plan.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was one of my most anticipated films of the year for one simple reason. The first film became a favorite of mine for all of the wrong reasons. It was a mess, but I had a blast with it. For this film, I went in wanting to have a bloody good time, but even better since I get to see it on the big screen. Does it deliver the carnage the fans of the first Venom film have been waiting for?

One thing I will say about Venom: Let There Be Carnage is that the villains are huge improvements over the bad guys in the first film. The first film had very generic and one-note scientists that just talked about experiments. Riot was also sadly wasted. Cletus Kasady on the other hand oozes with horror even before he becomes one with Carnage. Woody Harrelson makes this character work with his emotions and eerie politeness. The scene where he is telling Eddie about how he killed his grandmother and mother stands out to me for its creepy atmosphere in an otherwise goofy comedy. His relationship with Frances is also well done and it gives him a solid motivation for his character. Even the most evil people can have a person they love. Speaking of Frances, I really liked her too. I felt bad for her at times and I liked her power. Naomie Harris played her well. She looked so broken mentally. And of course there is Carnage who is incredibly frightening. However, I think the film misses the opportunity to make him more frightening because of the rating. It would have made his kills more effective as he rips through crowds of security officers even as they beg for mercy. Overall, the villains are great here despite some flaws.

On the heroic side of the story, the movie focuses a lot on the relationship between Eddie Brock and Venom. Their chemistry is what made me enjoy the first film so much as well as Eddie reacting everything weird happening to his body. It helps that Tom Hardy gave one of the most cracked performances I have seen in a blockbuster film. The first Venom film had Hardy doing so many weird things on screen you would believe seeing in a comic book film and saying several hilariously bad lines. His performance is more tame here and while it is better, I think I prefer his take in the first film. Venom on the other hand is a riot. He is much more rebellious here, but he is making a genuine effort to bond with Eddie. The scene where he cooks breakfast for Eddie is both hilarious and oddly sweet. Their chemistry still works here for the most part, but their banter can get old because it can get repetitive when they stay on certain topics. However, the entire time, I could not help but think of them as an old married couple arguing. Their friendship will either make or break this film for you.

As for the other narrative aspects, this film is an improvement over the original in several ways. The story and characters are better which makes it easier to get invested in them. We get to see more of Venom’s personality and insecurities which makes him more likable. The comedy is mostly funny. You can tell that this movie caters to the fans who loved the first film with how much it focuses on the banter between Brock and Venom. The tone of the film is much zanier and goofier than the first film. However, it does get darker once Carnage makes his appearance. The humor is funny and usually well timed. The audience had several laughs throughout their antics. The dialogue still has a few lines that made me wonder who green-lit the dialogue, but it is better here than in the first film. 

Production-wise, I really love the looks that Carnage and Venom have. They look really cool and menacing. Carnage has a horrifying introduction that I think will scare a few people. His design oozes with creepy and coolness. This is one of the scariest villains in a comic book film I have seen from a visual standpoint. The action scenes are fine. The final fight between Carnage and Venom is a lot of fun to watch, but I think I liked the action in the first film more than the action here. The first Venom film I feel had some pretty underrated set pieces. The only standout fight here is the climax which is good because Venom and Brock need to use their wits more here than in the last film. The soundtrack is oddly solid. I did not expect to enjoy the musical score as much as I do, but it had some nice spooky atmospheric music in the score.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a sequel that takes several steps forward and several steps backwards, but I ultimately enjoyed it. What I really respect about this movie is that the filmmakers knew exactly who they were catering to. Not the critics who bashed the first Venom film, but the fans who loved it for its insanity. They went all out with this sequel. For that reason, if you did not like first Venom, you will not like this film. If you had a great time with the first film, you will have a blast here too. 

Oh, and stay through the credits. Something very important happens.

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