Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the exact movie it needed to be. This movie knows what was the good part of the first movie, Eddie and Venom, and then gives you more of that plus a foil in Cletus Kasady and Carnage. I really liked this movie. It was exactly what I wanted to see… almost.
I don’t really have complaints about this movie. It did a lot of things right. It was violent, a bit messy in the good way, entertaining, funny and it’s tight. There are no wasted scenes. You can’t take a bathroom break during this movie because every scene is relevant to what is going on.
Like it’s only 90 minutes long. You can’t waste a scene in a movie that long. I love it… except it should be rated R.
I know why they didn’t, and they do a good job to cut around and keep their PG13 rating while still pushing the envelope as much as you can expect. I just really want to see the rated R cut of this movie. Hopefully it gets a special release but unfortunately it isn’t likely to be quite the pop culture hit of Deadpool. They did take full advantage of PG13 though and drop an excellent f-bomb, but no boobies.
The best part of the movie is the titular characters: Eddie and Venom, Cletus and Carnage. You get all the great couples therapy moments again but now they’ve grown more used to each other, but still aren’t totes besties. Cletus and Carnage have a simple dynamic, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
Carnage is one of my favourite comic villains for the simple reason that he is simple. Cletus loves murder. Carnage loves murder. That’s why they’re so good together. No plans of world domination. No delusions of grandeur. They’re plenty happy together just roaming into a small town and killing everyone at the diner just because they can.
It sounds awful, because it is, and a bit sick, because it is, but that’s why I love the character. Villains don’t need to be complicated if they’re effective when played straight. There’s no ambiguity around the morals of Carnage. He has none.
And because Carnage is a bit simple and more of a small-time villain despite his main event status, the movie follows suit. The plot is small and personal to the characters. There’s like six people in this movie with speaking roles. The two headliners and four other folks. There’s no unnecessary bloated arcs to give side character 3 a full arc. Who cares. Not me. The whole movie is in service of Venom and Carnage.
Tom Hardy does a great job being the nervous, twitchy regular-ish fella that has an alien amoeba slime half in control of his body. Venom, voiced by Hardy though you wouldn’t really know it, does a great job of caring for Eddie and being sick of him at the same time. But they just work, and that’s the point of them. They’re the cutest Lethal Protector and I ship them forever <3.
Woody Harrelson just seemed to have fun on this movie. His performance isn’t exactly deep or layered like an onion but he’s gets Cletus Kasady. See above for why.
The rest of the cast are all good. They do their parts well and make you care just enough. They play well off the dynamic of the movie. Michelle Williams does her thing. Peggy Lu returns and is fun. Naomie Harris looks unrecognizable as Shriek. Whoever plays Dan is great because Dan is a great guy.
Andy Serkis directed this movie and you can tell someone who cares about motion/performance capture and CGI directed this movie because it looks SO MUCH BETTER than the first film. You know what is happening at all times in this movie. I also feel like he brought a bit of his Gollum-Smeagol experience on the characters to this film which is no bad thing.
Part of what helps that is that Venom looks like Venom. Big and black. Carnage looks exactly like Carnage. A bit more slender and red! They pulled more from the Maximum Carnage design with the black mouth and black accents than the more modern Carnage’s that are almost a straight red Venom.
Ultimately, I want to watch this movie again way more than I want to watch the first one again. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the first one, give it a shot. There is great odd couple energy from Eddie and Venom. And the movie is perfectly fine enough to watch once.
But the real prize of these Venom films is this movie. It’s kind of like a throwback to the era of Raimi Spider-Man and Fox X-Men and Fantastic Four and “ice skating uphill” Blade. It’s cheesy but not insulting you for watching.
The movie takes itself exactly as serious as it should. There’s lots of little key frames and in jokes and iconography that hardcores are going to love, but nothing a general audience member won’t understand. I’m happy. This movie was fun. And fun things aren’t bad.
Oh! And the end-mid credits scene! Please sit and stay and watch that because that is some gourmet teasing. Holy poop! Heck, it even makes the Morbius movie somewhat interesting.