Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review (2021)

Let There Be More Carnage Please

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While Spiderman’s arch-nemesis Venom was deemed a worthy adversary to receive a spin-off film that sealed Eddy Brock’s fate (Tom Hardy) as the unfortunate host for the symbiote (also Tom Hardy), it ended up making an interesting path that set Venom 2 on it’s way – less of the dark, gritty violence one may have hoped for, and more of a somewhat mash-up thriller rom-com faced against a formidable symbiote known in the Venom universe: Carnage. The two worlds collide when Cletus Kasady (Woodrow Harrelson), a disturbed serial murderer in prison requests another audience with Eddy Brock to tell his story to the world.

“Let There Be Carnage” in some ways delivers the kind of chaos, intensity and climax we’ve come to know from Venom (2018), getting a little more personal, less distracted and still manages to pull-off the awkward marriage of Eddy and Venom, even if it heavily relies on tropes and clichés. You’ll enjoy this year’s Venom if that sounds like your kind of movie, while moviegoers desperately hopefully for a more sinister turn in the overall tone, will be disappointed once again. This review is spoiler-free.

YEAR 2021

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Symbiotic struggles

I found Venom (2018) a kind of movie right up my street – the kind that locks up two people in a room with completely different personalities that they never get along, but kind of have to. The awkward humour, comedic value, even in the most extreme of intense situations. We continue to get that in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, witnessing Venom and Eddy in a love-hate relationship as one decides to be a violent protector of Earth, while the other just wants to rebuild back his life and move forward from ex-fiancé Anne Weying.

Eddy and Venom are a humourous pairing and I can see in that light, the similarity to what you may have come to expect from a Marvel hero film (*ahem* Spiderman *ahem*), and it makes for some funny moments throughout the film. I dig Venom and laughed at many of the quips he whisper’s inside Eddy’s head, chirping snide remarks here and there.

They’re somewhat relatable in their arguments here and there, conflicting thoughts, aspirations and misalignment in where they want to go. It’s relationship funny on one hand, but on the other delve’s deeper on the kind of internal struggles a relationship can often be: Compromising, restrictive and feeeling ‘locked-in’. Venom a violent predator who decapitates human heads for food, settles for chicken and chocolate, the only two kinds of food that barely satisfies his picky diet. The kind of relationship between Eddy and Venom is a parallel to the swan-song of Cletus Kasady, separated from his lover, Francis Barrison, harboring anguish and chaos on the souls that interfered with their love story.

It’s a cliché for the ages that may be tiresome for many. A cliché of exchange between Eddy and Cleatus that while very one-dimensional and simplistic in unearthing the truth behind Cleatus’ madness, sets the stage for some killer action when all hell breaks loose, pushing the violent boundaries as far as an R-rated 15 movie can stretch to. It’s here where you feel Venom could and should be so much more gruesome and gory than what it is, often skimping the kind of details Venom deserves for his brutal nature in the comics, but again will fail to quench the thirst for those hoping Venom 2 would take things a little darker. We don’t get that here, but that doesn’t mean Let There Be Carnage is bad.. it just needs a looking at a different angle.

Let there be Carnage

Where Venom (2018) told a broader story of symbiotes vs humans, Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) intentionally zeroes in and focuses on the more personal tale of two stories. The field of view a little more narrow, the violence, damage and implications a little more local and the emotional distress a teeny more in your face.

I found the pace of the film reasonable and progressive, though some may find the action a little tedious before things really heat up. The build-up while slow generally felt important, although the support cast like Anne and husband to be Dan are reserved to the sidelines for the majority of the show, coming in for an assist to give the romantic cliché some spice.

In fact, there are actually four relationships we observe in Let There Be Carnage: Cletus Kasady and Francis Barrison, Cletus and Carnage, Eddy and Venom, Venom and Carnage. So if you’ve figured out the pattern, it’s really all about the similarities and polar opposites of how these relationships reflect on each other, the who-would-do-what in this situation and a constant contrast to the health and destructiveness in each one of them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I don’t mind it at all since there’s some interesting thoughts this avenue, but it’s certainly not what I envisioned Venom 2 would end up being about, especially with Carnage here.

Cliché Cleatus

To be clear, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was personally enjoyable but not a movie borne out of excellence. The rom-com cliché limits the kind of creativity, shock and surprise it can deliver, and it doesn’t try to. The narrative is straight-forward and sometimes uninspired, aspects of the more sincere scenes felt largely forgettable and half-hearted, while the villainy in all this, felt shallow in depth; more like passengers riding along the Carnage train. The mentally disturbed, psychiatric and supernatural different failed to leave a lasting mark or feel as big as it was made out to be in the grand scheme of things.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the acting class of Cletus, Eddy and the spotlight Venom, even if the surrounding cast were not as convincing to the narrative. Cletus is a character that can be at odds, either hit or miss. He was decent enough but lacked the depth to really unearth the kind of personality to really define a kind of feeling towards him. Whether you like Cletus or hate him, Carnage on the other hand is crazy.

As accepting as I am, man I wished there was more Carnage and more Venom. The action was intense, in your face, brutal and in some instances, torturous between the inevitable clash of the two. It was great. The action was non-stop and I felt little episodes like this or introducing it earlier into the movie would have made this more immersive. Instead, Let There Be Carnage hoped that the hype for the climax would make for an explosive peak – which it does – but finishes a little too soon. Carnage is every bit as distasteful as you can imagine that even had Venom weeping in his symbiotic pants.

Done and dusted?

Venom does what he does best and that’s strike a nice balance in being relatable, funny in stitches, and menacing when it comes down to it. He projects a softer side this time around which shows he’s more human than what he looks, that you cannot help but love the anti-villain hero. When a movie makes you love an anti-villain, you can certainly say it’s done it jobs well and I can say Venom is a badass. At the same time, a little more grit, muscle and less one-line quips would give Venom more gusto to match his gigantic frame and vigour, but otherwise if you dig this kind of persona, you’ll really enjoy Venom for what he is.

By the end of it all, Cletus and Francis while a typical trope, allowed us to explore the deeper nuances of Venom and Eddy. The fewer distractions blossomed some mushy, emotional (but not teary) moments as well as serious butt-kicking action. It’s a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, which for some is a fundamental flaw of the Venom series to what it could be, but sidles up to the familiarity of wider Marvel movies and how they could possibly intertwine going forward. Venom: Let There Be Carnage does manage to bring complete closure in the smaller details, leave one or two loose threads for another day, and more importantly, set’s for an exciting Venom 3 if the ending cookie is anything to go by.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an enjoyable sequel, even if it relies heavily on clichés and tropes in a straight-forward love affair. Venom and Eddy naturally bring a lot of excitement, while Carnage sets up an epic climax with Venom.
excellent climax between venom and carnage
deeper understanding of venom and eddy's relationship
constantly funny between eddy and venom
less convincing outside of the core cast
very cliche and trope plenty
progressive but slow build-up