“Copy and paste” superhero movies dominated box offices and TV screens for over a decade now. With the main target demographic being children, they fall into predictable dialogue and formulaic plots.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage had every opportunity to split from the herd, but unfortunately didn’t take it.
Released last Friday, the sequel follows up one of the most misunderstood superhero flicks, Venom.
The first Venom completely abandoned the hallmarks of origin stories – no drawn-out childhood isolation, no wise words of advice from a dead parent and no 27-year-old actors pretending to be high schoolers.
The first Venom was refreshing and original in its stupidity.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage contains a shocking cast of character actors. Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, the host of Venom; Woody Harrelson plays serial killer Cletus Kasady; Michelle Williams plays Brock’s ex-fiancé Anne; and Naomie Harris plays Shriek, the girl Cletus Kasady loves.
It was also the first directing job by actor/motion capture artist Andy Serkis, known for Lord of the Rings, but his leadership didn’t add anything special
The plot of the first movie focused on Venom versus silver Venom. Meanwhile, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, tries to continue that comedy while simultaneously trying to go deeper with its characters. They should have stayed stupid.
It should have just been Venom vs. red Venom. Instead of having the two characters fight, they tried to be too emotional with characters. Most scenes are just people complaining.
Hardy entertains in whatever role he stumbles around in. His portrayal of Eddie Brock seems hilarious — almost perfectly miscast as a journalist. He spends the 90-minute runtime playing host to Venom, a parasitic alien who needs to devour brains to survive.
Hardy’s “mumbly” voice and large demeanour fit perfectly for the anti-hero. Part of the charm of the first movie was how confused he looked the entire time, and I don’t think he was acting.
Harrelson’s role as a serial killer is surprisingly less interesting than his psychopathic portrayal as the title role in the 2017 movie Wilson.
His alter-ego is created after he awkwardly bites and sucks blood out of Hardy’s hand. He then plays host to Carnage, an alien even stronger than Venom.
If a script fails Harrelson, as it does in this movie, his slow laugh and distinct southern drawl can still bring attention to a boring scene.
The supporting characters
The main issue with the side characters, Anne and Shriek, is that the actors’ talent goes to waste.
Williams is one of the best working American actresses today. In the film, she seems bored most of the time.
Harris, on the other hand, loses herself in the role, staring down her castmates with her glass eye and witch-like posture. Her lack of screen time was one of the biggest shortfalls of the movie.
Additionally, the love story between Cletus Kasady and Shriek is pathetic and simple. The producers made an ugly stylistic choice to show their love story through an animation that failed to match the rest of the movie.
The dialogue in the film is its largest failure. When the characters aren’t explaining the plot, most lines seem like recycled jargon you could find in any “struggle story.”
The flick is Hardy’s first writing credit. Apart from future Venom movies, it will most likely be his last.
He shares the byline with Kelly Marcel, who told Indiewire he and Hardy “brainstormed” the $110 million production, unsurprisingly, over FaceTime.
The frustrating thing with Serkis’ direction is the awareness he has for the campy style of the first movie that he chooses not to reflect in the second.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage, instead, thematically tries to “grow a heart.” It’s filled with annoying bickering between Hardy and Venom, which is meant to be a cute throwback to The Odd Couple – a 1968 film that features two friends with opposing personalities and lifestyles trying to live together.
In short, the first Venom is superior to the second because everyone involved tried too hard to make Venom: Let There Be Carnage a genuine superhero movie.