The Venom movie from 2018 was not one of my favorites. It was very successful however so it was clear that it was going to have a sequel in the middle of the Sony Spider-Man-verse. In fact, it might be their crown jewel.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed this much more than the 2018 version.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his symbiote Venom returned in San Francisco and Eddie was trying to keep Venom contained by feeding him chicken brains and chocolate. Venom wanted to eat human brains. Eddie was struggling to carry on with his life with his new roommate.
Meanwhile, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) wants to contact Eddie Brock because he feels a connection with him. He wanted Eddie to print a quote in his column and then he would give him his story. During the discussion, Venom spotted a clue that would lead Eddie to discover the location Cletus would dump his victim’s bodies. Cletus saw this as a betrayal.
Cletus is scheduled for an execution and he requested Eddie come and witness the execution. Seeing Cletus, Eddie gets bitten by Cletus which brings some bit of the symbiote into his body. As he is being executed, Cletus becomes Carnage.
This movie is strangely about relationships more than anything else. It is the story of the relationship between Eddie and Venom, Eddie, Venom and Anne (Michelle Williams), Cletus and Frances (Naomie Harris, playing Shriek), Cletus and Carnage, Cletus and Eddie, Anne and her fiancé Dan (Reid Scott) and Frances and the cop Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham). They spend a good chunk of the film developing these character based elements of the story and the film is all the better for it.
Though there is a lot of character driven work, the film has some great action. In fact, the action is so much better than the first film that it is distinct. In 2018, the villain was so bland and dull (no offense to Riz Ahmed who did what he could) but he was such a bad character. Worse yet, when he was fighting Venom, you could not tell which one was which. I remember thinking that this was like the Transformers movies because I had no idea what was happening in the fights. In Venom: Let There Be carnage, the action is so much better because you could tell the difference. Carnage was red, Venom was black and there was some significant design difference. Major plus.
I love the work of Tom Hardy. He played these two characters, as he voiced Venom as well, The banter between the characters is a highlight of the film as Venom and Eddie feel like an old married couple. Woody Harrelson does a great job as Cletus and has a much better wig than he did in the post credit stinger in 2018.
Some of the humor does not hit completely, but there is no moment that the jokes pulled me out of the story. In fact, one of my least favorite moments, Venom in a dance club, has some sub-context which makes me want to rethink that scene.
I did not like the very end of the third act. The rest of the scene was excellent and really was emotional and seemingly smaller feeling than it could have been. That is a welcome change to this series and, again, so much better than the original film.
One of the controversial elements of this film on the Internet before its release was the run time, which turned out just around 1 hour and 37 minutes. That is considerably shorter than what we are used to for super hero movies. However, director Andy Serkis does a fantastic job running the pacing of this film and it does not feel too short. It feels just about perfect. It is a good example of why people on the Internet should not complain about something until after it happens.
The film does a great job of being very violent and brutal without having to be an R rated film. All that was really missing was gore/blood and I do not need to see that in a Venom movie.
And then… there is the mid credit scene.
END OF SPOILERS
Venom: Let There Be Carnage may not be a perfect film, but it is a lot of fun, features some great performances, is a remarkable improvement from the first film and is exciting, thrilling and funny. It is paced beautifully and is a great time in the theater.