The Venom film released a couple of years ago was a strange experience. It was entertaining in parts, but mostly a chaotic mess that had Tom Hardy chewing scenery and a plot that dissolved into nothing the second you thought about it. The best thing I can say about this sequel is that the Venom/Eddie Brock relationship is still the best part of the film.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good ended for me. It’s quite rare to find a film that is so generic but still leaves you feeling like you’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s strange in all the wrong ways. Woody Harrelson plays Cletus Kassidy, who becomes Carnage eventually, and when he was cast, I was excited. Him playing a guy who is just a total psychopath sounds like a fun time, but this is not quite what I was hoping for. There is an air of intimidation there, but he isn’t scary.
When we get to the part where he becomes Carnage. There are moments I thought we were about to take a turn into horror and really get somewhere interesting. Alas no, we just get a loud, crashing action scene where we cut 100 times and a load of generic cops get murdered in some way. Carnage is a character that is supposed to be sick, horrendous and genuinely evil. As much as he does kill lots of people, you hardly ever get the sense the symbiote is doing it because he likes it.
Perhaps I am leaning on my own hopes and expectations for the character here, but to me the two symbiotes, Venom and Carnage, are hardly distinct. Even the way Carnage comes into the film is a bit odd, and it’s never explained. Thanks to the MCU we’ve been taught to expect villains and characters to come organically into the world with the actions of the people we see in it often leading to the creation of the villains. Within the world set up in a superhero film, we expect to be able to follow the breadcrumbs to the current situation.
That particular point occurred to me during the film and made me think about other superhero franchises (mainly DC) that aren’t as thorough with the world building as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is. Those films have fallen into the shadows of the much loved MCU, and even though this film is tangentially part of that universe via spiderman, the rules of the world don’t seem to apply here. Without straight up spoiling everything that happens I can’t explain further but I think there is something in that contributing to these other franchises feeling a little underwhelming.
There is not much to Venom: Let there be carnage. I went in expecting a fun time in moments with a nonsense plot, and I got less than that. If you are out for a fun time at the cinema this week, go and see Halloween Kills. If you loved the first film, this is going to be an enjoyable time for you. It’s just more, but with the silliness turned up to 11. Even an intriguing post credit scene couldn’t turn this into a win for me.
Good: There is some entertaining back and forth with Venom and Eddie, but not enough to make this worth watching. I’d like to see this venom interact with Tom Holland’s Spiderman though.
Bad: You won’t remember what happened by the time you get home.
TL;DR – Venom lacks potency.