Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Director: Andy Serkis
Writers: Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, and Woody Harrelson
Plot: Venom is thrusted in superhero mode once a serial killer gains control of a symbiote of his own.
Review: Let me first say that, if I had it my way, I would not be watching any of Sony’s Spider-Man “spinoffs.” I think they’re cheap knockoffs of the established MCU and are just keeping these characters out of the reach of Marvel, where they can truly shine with the company that knows these characters best. But, I’ve always felt like me not giving in to see these movies was kind of cutting into my credibility a little. After all, how can I be THE Marvel guy… heck, the Spider-Man guy without at least giving these a shot? So, I finally did this week. And the first Venom, honestly, wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece in any way, but it was entertaining and exceeded my low expectations. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is very much in the same boat. It’s not high art, but, man, I can’t help but enjoy it just a little bit.
The main thing you need to know about Venom: Let There Be Carnage is that it is incredibly dumb. Like the 1990s comics it took inspiration from, it’s “extreme” and “edgy” and more than a little silly. Now, honestly, even as a Spider-Man guy, I could never quite get into this era of comic books. It’s just not my thing. The symbiote stuff doesn’t really impress me all that much. However, it’s obvious to me that Tom Hardy and Andy Serkis are massive fans of those original comics. As such, they are completely loyal to the tone of the source material. It’s portrayed with just the right level of playfulness that you know they know it’s ridiculous. But, that’s kind of what makes it great. After all, who doesn’t want to see a homicidal maniac with an alien attached bust his mutant girlfriend out of prison so they can get married while guests are held hostage and forced to watch? It’s all in good fun. And, while incredibly stupid, it’s hard not to crack a smile and laugh along with them.
Meanwhile, we get to see the real heart of the movie, Eddie and Venom’s relationship, really blossom. Andy Serkis has said that he considers this movie a love story between the two and I 100% get where he’s coming from. While, obviously, there’s no real romance, this is a few simple edits away from being your typical romantic comedy. The two bicker, break up, find out who they really are as individuals, and then learn they are better together than they ever would be apart. It’s a very interesting direction to take the story that I feel mostly pays off. Though, seeing Venom in his “strong, independent symbiote who don’t need no man” phase will never not be jarring.
So, overall, I enjoyed Venom: Let There Be Carnage about as much as I did the first Venom. It’s a very mixed bag. I like that this one took more risks than the first, even if not all of them paid off. It’s incredibly dumb, but, then again, so are the comics its based on. Plus, it’s good to see just a batshit bonkers superhero movie that’s so far off the rails from what we normally get. We haven’t gotten something this unpolished and gloriously dumb from Marvel since the pre-MCU days of Ghost Rider and X-Men Origins Wolverine. In fact, I believe that, if this had come out during that era, it’d be heralded as a classic. Unfortunately, the world has moved on a bit. And, while definitely fun, it’s hard to say that this movie is actually good.
But, man, that post credits scene had me hyped for this franchise’s future!
Score: 6.5/10 (Okay)