Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a mishmash of multiple types of sensibilities. On the one hand, it has the grandiose special effects and abundance of superpowered characters that you’re accustomed to in this day and age of superhero filmmaking. On the other hand, much like 2018’s Venom, it feels like a superhero film from a different era. While the folks over at Marvel Studios pride themselves in modernizing their characters to be digestible for a modern audience, both Venom films have been completely wacky and comfortable in their own skin – for better or worse. But what makes Venom: Let There Be Carnage truly standout from the first film is that it doubles down on the best elements of the first film.. the comedy and banter between Eddie and Venom, but also the very obvious love and care between the two of them.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage follows Eddie and Venom (Tom Hardy) a few years after the first film, as they struggle to coexist in a way that is satisfying for either of them. But when deranged, locked-up serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) becomes the host of a deadly new symbiote, Eddie and Venom are forced to put their differences aside to try and stop him. And right off the bat, the pairing of Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson adds a lot to this film. Both actors are given the wackiest of material, and seemingly a lot of creative freedom for their performances.
The film isn’t necessarily one of the better comic-book films of recent years, but there’s such a simplicity to the loose, comedic, 90-minutes of Venom: Let There Be Carnage that feels like a refreshing change of pace to the self-serious, 120+ minute films we’ve gotten here lately. Andy Serkis has taken duties behind the camera this time around, and I think his voice adds a lot to the film as well. This is clearly a very VFX heavy movie, and his knowledge of how motion-capture performances work help this film feel even more polished in that arena.
I could critique the film for barely having a plot, as much as it just strings together a handful of amusing comedic moments with exposition dumps and exciting, VFX-heavy action sequences. But to complain about Venom: Let There Be Carnage being simplistic is to complain about water being wet. It’s simply a well-intentioned, fun time at the theater that never overstays its welcome.