It’s better than the first, which isn’t saying much.
I’ve said “Venom” was “a mean-spirited and noisy debacle with unlikable characters, bad special effects, pointless violence, and no plot. It ranks with some of the worst superhero movies in recent memory.” Tom Hardy played journalist Eddie Brock and did the voice of his alien counterpart Venom, but as much as I love this actor (“The Dark Knight Rises” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” are among his best), he was still wasted in both roles. The movie was even Number 2 on my list of the worst films of 2018. And yet, it broke several box office records for an October release, grossing $856.1 million.
Because of that, and the fact that fans were interested in seeing Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of Carnage, we are given a sequel: “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Carnage is a serial killer Cletus Kasady, who gets visited by Eddie Brock (once again played by Hardy), before biting him, which has Venom’s DNA inside. Kasady enjoys Venom’s taste, and before the lethal injections can execute him, Carnage is born.
Harrelson is probably the best newcomer in the movie, as he reminded me of his performance as serial killer Mickey Knox in “Natural Born Killers.” That was an intense and serious character study, compared to this movie, which is actually better than the first, much better, but it isn’t say much.
For one thing, the CGI effects for the Venom and Carnage battles get exhausting and too generic for me to enjoy. The first film’s had worse effects, while in this sequel, they only work when Eddie deals with Venom, and his need for human brains-not chicken brains. So, all he has to eat is mostly M&Ms. I also liked how Venom cooks breakfast for Eddie and gets him covered with ketchup. And when the two break up, Venom sneaks off to a costume party, via a random partygoer, and becomes a big hit. But those moments are more entertaining than the actual fight scenes, because they were basically more of the same.
For another thing, the movie runs for an hour and half, which means there’s less patience, less character studies, and less time to reunite with the good guys and meet the bad guys. I talked to a friend of mine about how superhero movie that run for 90 minutes are much of superheroes, compared to DC or MCU’s latest flicks.
Michelle Williams reprises her role as Eddie’s ex Anne Weying, who tells Eddie she’s engaged to the doctor Dan Lewis (Reid Scott). Joining the cast are Stephen Graham as a detective, who’s up Eddie’s tail about his recent visits to Kasady, and Naomie Harris as another adversary named Shriek, who screams so loud, that you need ear muffs for your ear plugs. The former thought he killed her, while the latter is set to marry Kletus, her childhood love, and their wedding is almost in the same style as “Beetlejuice.” The groom has to correct the minister with “if” almost in the way Michael Keaton said: “Nobody says the “B” word.”
In a way, Hardy does a better job with Eddie and Venom than he did in the original, when they really go all Jekyll & Hyde meet Ren & Stimpy on each other. And Harrelson is entertaining when he escapes from prison in style, and uses his character’s wacky evil words. How would this be possible? Because director Ruben Fleischer’s replacement is Andy Serkis, who specializes in playing CGI characters from Gollum to Caesar. He does a good job at presenting “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in a 90s superhero movie way, but he doesn’t take the kind of risks James Gunn took in the underperformed, but brilliant “The Suicide Squad.”
To make a distinction, the first “Venom” was Poison for the Mind, while the sequel is a mixed bag. It’s not much, but it’s an improvement.