“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is a lot of things: a comic book sequel to a blockbuster, a comedy of misfit friends, a chance for self-conscious over-acting. But at its core, behind the grotesque innuendo and gnashing of teeth and lumps of dirt, it’s something else entirely: a love story. Not between Eddie Brock’s Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams as the escapees, not even between the evil Carnage Woody Harrelson and the mutant Shriek Naomie Harris misunderstood, but rather between Eddie and the giant symbiote that lives within him, Venom.
They may tell themselves that they have reached an uncomfortable détente since the original “Venom” from 2018. They may become easily offended by each other and argue about who is really in charge. But finally, surprisingly, they reveal a genuine emotional connection when they realize that they are actually better off together.
This is not a spoiler! A video message before a recent screening from Hardy and director Andy Serkis warned us all not to divulge any interesting secrets (which, come on Sony, we journalists won’t). However, you should stick with the credits, because some truly amazing developments are happening that you’ll definitely want to see.
It might sound crazy to contemplate ideas like vulnerability and tenderness given that we’re talking about a film where a pretentious alien lives inside of a brave reporter, bickering and joking with him in the cruel Cookie Monster growl (also Hardy, has the ball). Sure, Venom constantly complains about how he’s not getting enough out and eating people, and that the chicken and chocolate diet doesn’t provide enough food. She often voices Eddie’s fears and insecurities (“Leave me alone, you’re always cranky!” Eddie complains), but he’s also Eddie’s head cheerleader, prompting him to reconcile with Williams’ Anne, who is now engaged to a much more suitable Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott). He is the little voice in all of us, written big.
But the silliness is the strength of the first film, which seems to have been recognized by everyone involved and worked hard to follow through. The Carnage character literally shouted: “Let there be … be … Massacre! Under director Serkis, taking over for Ruben Fleischer, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is vibrant and breezy. It’s not about the end of the world, as is often the case in comic book extravaganzas, and it’s simply about one man’s struggle with his own literal and figurative demon. In addition to providing a gung-ho physical appearance, Hardy shares story after credit with returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel—who, by the way, is wise enough to mine “Fifty Shades of Grey” for its inherently absurd humor. While the bondage paraphernalia here may seem appropriate, “Venom” offers a complicated and very different kind of intimate relationship.
This time, Eddie has the chance to once again reign supreme over San Francisco journalism (a strange idea, that people actually read newspapers and follow certain reporters) by securing an interview with convicted murderer Cletus Kasady (the sight-chewing Harrelson), who is about to be executed. in San Quentin State Prison. But as Eddie’s report causes Cletus to be euthanized, a physical clash ensues between the two men that includes a bloodbath—and the transfer of a few drops of symbiote material. As if we needed more reason to stay six feet apart.
Cletus’ transformation into the red Carnage—a bigger, fiercer, and more armed version of Venom—is a cacophony of voices and rage. It’s also the first sign that the action in this sequel won’t be as exciting as the comedy. and cinematographer Martin Scorsese (“Casino,” “The Aviator,” “Glowing the Light.” ). it’s often hard to tell who did what to whom. Here, it’s still a little murky—especially during the nighttime clashes outside the school for troubled kids—but overall, the action is clear. (Richardson is also an amusing choice, given Scorsese’s scandalous comments about whether Marvel movies are cinema. The director of photography seems to think so.)
There is never a moment or sequence in which Cletus marvels at his surprising and newfound abilities, which seem like the missing piece. Instead, he immediately wore Carnage like a tailor-made suit, as if he was born that way. And his first business is to get back the woman he loves from a high-tech prison, Harris’ Frances Barrison, better known as Shriek for her deafening vocal abilities. In a clever twist, the surprisingly loud noise also weakens Venom and Carnage—though for some reason, the two symbiotes can howl at each other during battle like a kaiju stomping on Tokyo and doing them no harm.After all, Cletus’ reunion with the woman he’s loved since childhood, as we see in flashback, has never been as exciting as the aftermath of Eddie’s ever-changing relationship with Venom. The film’s highlight is Venom’s solo trip to the Halloween raves, where he’s a party hit with what everyone considers an elaborate costume. There’s also a fantastic little piece involving convenience store owner Mrs Chen, played with timing and expert technique by Peggy Lu.
But what these two scenes reveal is the softer, sweeter side of this symbiote, and the unexpected influence it has on people outside of Eddie. The blow was louder than the majestic moments where the giant black and red wisps flung themselves in the air. But don’t get too comfortable with the convenient and fun idea of Venom. As the end credits remind us, there’s always more movies in store.