With a record start in the USA, the sequel to the Marvel anti-hero epic “Venom” is also appearing in USA cinemas these days. VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE has similar strengths and weaknesses to the original, but Andy Serkis understood what the audience wanted. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Venom: Let there be Carnage (USA/UK/CAN 2021)
The plot summary
The journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his alien parasite Venom have now come to terms with each other. Since separating from his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams), who, to make matters worse, already has a new partner (Reid Scott) and is even engaged, the two have been living under one roof in the best shared apartment style and, with the exception of the constant discussion, have managed to who or what can be eaten and what can’t, to get along together. They have to, because a new villain is on the doorstep: Cletus Cassidy (Woody Harrelson), a convicted serial killer, gets a little too close to Eddie during an interview – and unleashes the even more evil Carnage within him. Now Venom and Eddie would actually have to stand together against their enemy. But just before the catastrophe, the two separate as a result of a serious argument. Will they still be able to successfully oppose Carnage?
It was foreseeable that the publication of “James Bond 007 – No Time to Die” would be followed by post-Corona launch records around the world. The fact that “Halloween Kills” would be able to match the numbers of the first part after the huge success of its predecessor – and in keeping with its theatrical release shortly before the festival of ghosts and demons – also seemed almost certain shortly before release. But it was hardly possible that “Venom: Let there be Carnage” would eclipse all other releases with an opening weekend of over 90 million dollars. The Tom Hardy vehicle and Marvel anti-hero epic from 2018 had a very good final performance with a worldwide box office of around 850 million and left a lasting impression, especially among fans of the alien parasite. It hardly seemed to be expected that “Venom 2” would almost pulverize the opening numbers of the first part. After all, “Venom” wasn’t exactly a film for good word of mouth, and was even literally ripped apart by critics like its victims from Venom. Maybe it’s because after so many months without major blockbuster releases, audiences are just gobbling up everything that comes their way. Or it can be confirmed that Venom is one of the fandom’s favorite characters (because he is the most complexly written). The latter is even less apparent in the sequel than in the predecessor, which was rightly criticized for it. But “Venom: Let there be Carnage” also turns out to be an entertaining, even funnier pleasure with major weaknesses in the villain and in the final chord. However, depending on your expectations, this can only spoil the overall impression to a limited extent.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his “lodger” Venom regularly bicker like an old married couple.
Before we get to the hard-to-deny weak points of “Venom: Let there be Carnage,” let’s first look at everything the Marvel sequel can score with. This is primarily – and even more than in “Venom” – the humor, starting from the interaction between Tom Hardy (“Dunkirk”) and the once again solidly animated Venom, who once again constantly speaks up and either appears as the inner voice of his host or grows out of Eddie’s back when the two of them have a particularly serious word to say to each other. The interaction between Hardy, who shows off his amusing, quick-witted and, at the same time, sympathetically constantly annoyed side, and his greedy lodger, who is never at a loss for a know-it-all comment, resembles the squabbles of an old married couple; It’s just that the problems being faced here are of a different nature. The nice thing: If you liked part one primarily because of its humorous touch, you might like its sequel even more. The narrative part takes up over half an hour and simply describes the chaotic shared life of the two, without there being any indication that an action-packed conflict will develop in the last two thirds. This has advantages and disadvantages. “Venom: Let there be Carnage” is much more of a buddy comedy than “Venom,” but it deprives the titular antihero of the last remnants of his complex characterization. To speak of a villain no longer comes close to interpreting the parasite. And the alien’s strange eating habits also serve as food for the humorous moments, but can no longer underline his inner conflict between good and evil. Venom is now fully part of the hero figure and sidekick. This could particularly bother fans of the original Venom.
“’Venom: Let there be Carnage’ is much more of a buddy comedy than its predecessor, but it deprives the titular antihero of the last remnants of his complex characterization.”
However, if you like this, you’ll have the time of your life at least in the first third of “Venom: Let there be Carnage” – until the script by returning author Kelly Marcel (“Saving Mr. Banks”) makes the crucial mistake of letting the squabbles between the two main characters escalate to the point where the two temporarily separate. At exactly the moment when Woody Harrelson’s subplot took place (“Zombieland: Twice is better”) Appropriately on the verge of overacting, the insanely embodied serial killer Cletus Cassidy becomes the final boss. The explanation of how he manages to break out of the maximum security prison can still be swallowed with a lot of goodwill; After all, many comic book films have a subscription to constructed plot developments. The motivation for Cassidy’s renewed sweep is of an amorous nature. And it’s not just Naomie ‘Miss Moneypenny’ Harris’ overly static game that can’t keep up with the passion of her committed lover. In addition, her character, Frances Barrison, alias Shriek, is written so flatly that “Venom 2” would have been much more compact in its story and therefore more engaging if it had focused solely on Carnage as the antagonist. So until the final fight between Venom and Carnage, the film always has to return to the actual core via frayed story arcs. Even with a slim running time of 97 minutes (including credits), this results in short lengths.
The darker side of Venom is in demand…
At least the final battle is short and sweet, although it suffers from similar weaknesses as all the action scenes in the first part. Although, of all people, the motion capture expert Andy Serkis (“As long as I breathe”) Responsible for directing “Venom 2”, he doesn’t prevent the final act from being dominated by a CGI smorgasbord in which any aesthetic ambition (with the exception of a beautifully animated ink sequence in the first half of the film) takes a back seat. Although Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson are largely able to move believably between the computer effects around them, the wild, muddy gray-on-gray that dominates the scenery, accompanied by hectic editing (Maryann Brandon and Stan Salfas, “Star Wars : The Force Awakens”/“The Incredibles 2”) turn the action into interchangeable carnage that doesn’t actually deserve the latter term. Like part one, “Venom 2” also has an FSK rating from 12 in this country. In the USA there wasn’t even an R rating, but a PG-13 rating. A potentially bloodthirsty fight turns into a fight that is largely suitable for young people, cutting away in the crucial moments and allowing only a little blood to flow. This fits with the overall interpretation of the film and makes “Venom: Let there be Carnage” the most mass-appealing endeavor possible, but it moves even further away from the original than it already does. The following still applies: Anyone who sees the strengths of the franchise elsewhere should not be deterred by this. The fan base, on the other hand, can (also) count the film out for its harmlessness.
“Like part one, ‘Venom 2’ also has an FSK rating from 12 in this country. In the USA there wasn’t even an R rating, but a PG-13 rating. A potentially bloodthirsty fight turns into a fight that is largely suitable for young people, cutting away in the crucial moments and allowing only a little blood to flow.”
So the “Venom” saga is and remains primarily a Tom Hardy vehicle for the time being. There is no doubt that he has a lot of fun playing the role of Eddie Brock. And also in collaboration with Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”) as his ex-girlfriend, his passion for the role comes through again and again. It’s exciting that a film that is actually designed to be a fantasy riot has its advantages in the acting ensemble. This means that “Venom: Let there be Carnage” is most closely in the tradition of “Deadpool”. Even if the latter has a few more rough edges.
Conclusion: If you liked the comedy in part one, you will especially love the first half hour of “Venom: Let there be Carnage”. But like its predecessor, this film also has its weaknesses, especially in the villain drawing and optics. When it comes to the lack of violence, on the other hand, it is up to the audience to interpret whether it disrupts the interpretation of the “Venom” stories here, or whether it simply fits in with the rest.
“Venom: Let there be Carnage” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 21, 2021.