REVIEW: Tom Hardy can’t save ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage,’ a pointless mix of slapstick comedy and gruesome deaths
Oct 1, 2021, 6:01 AM | Updated: 12:27 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — One of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains, Venom, is back on the big screen (after waiting a year due to COVID) in “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Once again, the film does not have any connections to, or even a mention of, Spider-Man himself.
But star Tom Hardy had so much fun with his characters (Eddie Brock/Venom) in the original 2018 film that he immediately began pitching the studio on a sequel, and since “Venom” made almost $850M worldwide at the box office, Sony gave it the green light.
In “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” we return to the story of Eddie Brock (Hardy) a disgraced journalist who bonded with an alien symbiote that talks in his head and, when it covers his body, gives him super strength and an increased healing ability.
But as time has passed, the two have begun to get on each other’s nerves, kind of like you do with a roommate. Their main source of frustration: Venom wants to eat bad guys, and Eddie won’t let him, choosing instead to keep Venom on a diet of chickens and chocolate.
Then Brock gets an exclusive interview with serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, channeling his “Natural Born Killers” character, only this time with a red-headed wig). The interview gives Brock and Venom enough information to discover where Kasady secretly buried his victims. That puts Brock back in the spotlight as a respected journalist and earns Kasady a death sentence.
Just before Kasady’s execution, Brock goes in for a final interview with the condemned and Kasady unsuspectingly goads Venom into attacking him. The aftermath of the exchange leaves a tiny bit of alien goo behind, which bonds with Kasady during his execution and two become the murderous, rampaging villain Carnage. To stop him, Venom and Eddie will have to get past their frustration with each other, join back together and finally become A LETHAL PROTECTOR.
I didn’t like this movie overall, but it does have some funny moments, most of which come from Tom Hardy’s considerable talents. Along with playing Brock, he also provides the voice of Venom.
Some of the best parts were watching Brock argue with himself, fight with himself, or hearing the alien Venom’s weird views about life on earth, or singing along with the radio, or trying to help Eddie with his love life.
Michelle Williams is back as Anne, Eddie’s ex-fiancee, and she seems to be having a good time with all the ridiculousness going on.
Also, make sure you don’t leave too soon, as there is a mid-credits scene that sets up a future story and should please nearly everyone.
There are a lot of warnings, especially for parents. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is rated PG-13 for intense violence, action, language and suggestive material. A whole lot of people are killed in gruesome ways and even some heads get eaten. There is no blood shown, but that doesn’t make it any less gross, or any less obvious what is happening.
The premise, story, and the characters involved should have earned an R rating, but a few creative edits got it down to PG-13—probably in hopes of a bigger box office return. I would recommend parents consider limiting it to 15 years old and up on this one.
But for me, the biggest problem with Sony’s version of Venom is that it isn’t true to what makes him compelling in the first place.
Though I am a lifelong comic book fan, I’m not such a purist that I think superhero/villain movies have to follow the same storylines as the comic books. But I do feel like they should be true to the characters they’re based on and that writers and directors should understand what made them appealing in the first place.
Yet I don’t feel like that has been the case in the two “Venom” movies so far.
You can listen to the long version of my rant on the Fan Effect podcast (available on kslnewsradio.com) but essentially, Sony’s decision to make a movie about a character who was meant to be a darker version of, and nemesis to, Spider-Man, but without any hint of Spider-Man…it just doesn’t work for me. And as much as I liked the mid-credits scene in “Carnage” and what it means for future stories, at the same time it also appears to invalidate everything I just spent two movies watching, so what was the point in watching them?
FINAL THOUGHTS & WHERE TO WATCH
As you can tell, I’m not high on VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. To me, it was a disappointing sequel that felt rushed by the studios to get released before other future Marvel movies and feels like a Sony cash grab. It was an uneven mix of slapstick comedy one moment and dark gruesomeness the next.
About the only saving grace is that director Andy Serkis moves the film quickly along and the whole thing only lasts 90 minutes.
If you’d like to see VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE, you’ll have to do it in theaters. No streaming at home on this one until sometime next year.
Interested in this movie? Watch the video at the top of the page for my full, in-depth review & final rating.
Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth is the movie and pop culture guy for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out some of his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.