Friday 26 November 2021

Film Review: Venom - Let There Be Carnage

Bigger, badder and more teeth. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a sloppy sequel to an already shitty film. 

Back in October 2018, Ruben Fleischer's first Venom film racked up a remarkable $856 million worldwide – a tally that guaranteed the slimy symbiote would return for a sequel, with even more tentacles and tantalising action. 

Let There Be Carnage sees British actor Andy Serkis at the helm, for his first directorial feature since that Netflix adaptation of The Jungle Book. The film picks up dishevelled and disgraced journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as he struggles to live alongside his alien other half, Venom. 

A quibbling couple who want different things from life – Eddie wants to start over and find some stability, Venom wants nothing more than to eat human brains and generally cause mayhem – the two cross paths with a serial killer on death row, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), and his estranged girlfriend, Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris). When Cletus and Frances escape prison and reunite, Eddie and Venom must put aside their differences and yada yada, you know the drill. If there's one thing this film doesn't have going for it, it's a glowing script. In fact, the pace is cranked up to 11 and the plot moves faster than an overcaffeinated rabbit. 

Let There Be Carnage
is a superhero film cut from the same cloth as those misguided early 2000s efforts, when Hollywood thought edginess and schlock was enough to wallpaper over the cracks of a slapdash script, broad performances and rough visual effects. And boy, are they rough – the third act of this film is enough to give you a headache.

I've seen a lot of reviews waxing lyrical about this film, citing that it's 'in on the joke', that it's intentionally playing up series' sillier side and leaning into the 'odd couple' comedy from Eddie and Venom. That's not a view I share, however, and I found myself tiring of the schtick inside 10 minutes; mercifully, the film is only 97 minutes, because any longer and I would have gladly thrown myself into Venom's gaping maw just to escape. 

The sad part is, there's a lot of talent here. Hardy, Harrelson and Harris are acclaimed, Oscar-nominated actors; Michelle Williams, who plays Eddie's ex-girlfriend, has four Academy Award nominations to her name! Andy Serkis has great potential as a filmmaker, having served under the tutelage of Peter Jackson on The Hobbit trilogy. I can't think of any reason why all of these celebrated actors and filmmakers would sign onto this script, other than to cash a whopping cheque from Sony Pictures.

Let There Be Carnage has none of the polish or precision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; none of the colour or panache of DC's best work either. It's bottom-of-the-barrel bunkum that Sony has scraped together, to cash in and cater to the lowest common denominator. 

The Verdict: 2/10

Just an ugly, ugly film to look at, sit through, think about etcetera. I thought the first one sucked, but Let There Be Carnage shows just how bad it could have been. I wasn't expecting Shakespeare, but damn. 

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is in cinemas across Australia now.

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