In conjunction with Marvel, Sony continues to expand its superheroic universe with Venom, around Spider-Man, but without Spider-Man (except…). Three years after the horrific success of Venom, Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage is here to put the layers in, always with Tom Hardy in the role of the friend of the voracious symbiote. With Andy Serkis behind the camera, and Woody Harrelson to take on the anti-hero, there is a glimmer of hope. It had to be swallowed up quickly considering the titanic fiasco of this sequel.
MAGIC FROM BELOW
So what is this, a metastatic cross between Le fils du Mask and Dumb & Dumber De? Could this be the greatest troll in recent Hollywood history, or the most sublime maneuver of cynicism? Will Tom Hardy undergo the medical treatment that will explain this disaster? The play of Woody Harrelson, Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams, deserves Chuck Norris in a great era, is that a cry for help? Is there one sober person on the crew of this indecent blockbuster, which puts Catwoman, Green Lantern and Elektra into perspective?
So many questions after 90’s small but endless, Venom 2 minutes, whose subtitled Let There Be Carnage (What the Massacre Begins) seem like the ultimate finger. And there’s a scene where Venom, in the midst of a crypto-gay-but-not-too-much-friendly altercation with his girlfriend, is talking to Eddie Brock, a cartoon CGI major. It’s hard not to take it personally because this film looks like a huge poison spit, filled with so much incompetence and indifference that it could open up the Olympics chaired by Uwe Boll.
Except that the real misfortune was there. Venom 2 is not funny, except to confuse nervous laughter and dry eyes, from being amazed in front of so much nothingness, with a form of pleasure. It’s definitely not a great film, despite the kilos of candles burned by fans who wanted to see him traverse Spider-Man’s path without leaving a spider’s tire marks. But this isn’t some gullible entertainment or a bit of a flop: it’s a flamboyant demonstration of all that’s wrong in the superheroic industry, one that seems more than ever to test the public’s boundaries.
YOU TOLD ME TO SAY HARDY
If Tom Hardy wasn’t in depression after the first Venom and still isn’t after Venom 2, it’s because he has reached suicide bomber levels bordering on cosmic Buddhism. Locked in the toilet arguing with his poop, molested in front of his desk during a time-lapse drawing session, littered with ketchup at breakfast, the actor looked distressed. When Eddie Brock wreaks havoc in his apartment against Venom, and therefore himself, it’s almost a metaphor for Tom Hardy’s career – yesterday Bronson, Bane and Mad Max, and now the royal clown of the blockbuster circuit.
Except that Tom Hardy is fine. She co-signed the story for Venom: Let There Be Carnage with screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who has such a brilliant resume that Cruella is well on her way to becoming her magnum opus. Unless you can imagine the comfort of a little Stockholm syndrome between Sony studios and him, he’s perfectly comfortable in this constipated Doctor Jekyll and Mr Bean position. And if the lobster swimming in the first Venom was a little awkward, Tom Hardy went straight to level 10 in the sequel.
The actor, co-producer and co-signer of the story naturally sets the tone for this melody from hell, and starts out with him in the septic tank. What about Michelle Williams, who is reduced to a godiche with even less personality than in the first work? Even though he has the only scenes with a bit of wit in the film (confessions from Eddie to She-Venom), he is thrown in by the plot, and used as a joker (making Eddie talk, saving Eddie, bringing Eddie to a climax, complicating Eddie’s life). The most synthetic of wigs can’t distract from the difficulty that reads across her face, resulting in a grandiose flirting scene in a department store that should haunt her nights.
But pompoms are still Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris in Bonnie & Clyde from Foir’Fouille. Cabotant is one thing, quite frankly and vital for any actor looking to maintain a semblance of dignity in a terrible film. But in this black wave that is Venom 2 , just hitchhiking isn’t enough. Maybe it’s because Cletus Kasady aka Carnage and Frances Barrison and Shriek were written with a ruthless spade, to compete in jokes with the hero. Or maybe it’s because between their old wigs and the sea of CGI they’ve showered 3/4 times in, they have no way out. No need to look for motivation, barely any so that a few lines of their dialogue inthe climax gives the impression
THE SHITSHOW MUST ON
Responsible for the first Venom (but also for Gangster Squad, Return to Zombieland and the Uncharted films/insert nervous laughs), director Ruben Fleischer will be able to breathe. The shame can be shared a bit with his successor Andy Serkis, the invisible head behind Gollum and King Kong, who had cut his teeth as second-team director in the Hobbit trilogy before taking the reins alone in the blockbuster Mogwli.
On the bright side: harmony in horror is guaranteed in this sequel. Despite its $110 million budget and cinematographer Robert Richardson (a favorite collaborator of Tarantino and Scorsese), Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an abomination. The artistic direction is just as bad, with timeless wet tarmac roads, and other interiors that can be used to photograph production pilots.