Maximum Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage embraces the stupidity of the franchise. Somehow that makes it even better than the first movie. Still only 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Venom wasn’t a very high bar to clear. The best decision was making Let There Be Carnage a breezy 1 hour & 37 minutes. It’s kind of refreshing to see a short superhero movie after so many of them have been pushing 3 hours. Venom went an entire hour without the titular symbiote. A decision they thankfully don’t make again. Though the runtime does make the Marvel sequel feel quick and pointless. At least Let There Be Carnage delivers the Carnage that was promised at the end of the first movie.

I’m still not a fan of Sony’s forced shared universe, but seeing Venom fight Carnage in live action was a dream come true. Much like Venom, my familiarity with Carnage mostly came from a toned down version of the villain in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The villain was created in 1992 for The Amazing Spider-Man #361. He was made in response to the growing popularity of Venom and reluctance to kill off his host Eddie Brock. So sadistic serial killer Cletus Kasady ended up the host of an even more evil red symbiote called Carnage. Although Spider-Man teamed up with Venom to defeat Carnage, the hero’s presence isn’t necessary for the character. Let There Be Carnage puts more emphasis on a symbiotic relationship…

14. Venom Let There Be Carnage

Carnage prepares to attack

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a dumb title that matches the tone of the movie. Maximum Carnage would’ve been a better title since that’s what most of the story is based on. After Woody Harrelson appeared at the end of Venom, I hoped a sequel would get made just to see Carnage in action. Even if that meant Venom made nearly a billion dollars at the box-office. Sony bounced back critically with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but the quality of Let There Be Carnage was difficult to determine. Ruben Fleischer seemed to leave the project in favor of Zombieland: Double Tap. I never expected Gollum himself Andy Serkis to replace him as director. His experience with motion capture character’s made him Sony’s top choice. I only grew nervous after seeing the first trailer. This time the problem felt like too much comedy.

The second half of the trailer matched the dark tone of a character like Carnage, but the first half revealed the new voice for Venom. Tom Hardy reprises his role as both Eddie Brock and Venom. His Eddie performance is less awkward, but just as bizarre with him barely maintaining his American accent. His Venom voice is even more exaggerated and kind of goofy. Though not as distracting as it should be. Since Eddie and Venom’s odd couple dynamic was the most entertaining part of the first movie, they give it extra attention in the sequel. They just lean a little too heavily into the gay subtext. It’s difficult to read their relationship as anything else. Especially with lines like “I’m coming out of the Eddie closet.” Venom helps Eddie with his journalism, but Eddie won’t return the favor by becoming the Lethal Protector. They survive by eating chocolate and chicken heads. With the exception of their pet chickens Sonny & Cher.

Eddie’s career gets a major boost when he gets an exclusive from Cletus Kasady in San Quentin Prison. Harrelson looks a lot better with more natural red hair instead of the stupid wig he had before. Kasady feels like he leapt off the page with a practically word for word origin story. Like most serial killers, Cletus harmed his family, animals, and ended up in an orphanage. Harrelson is the perfect serial killer despite the sequel’s PG-13 rating. He was made for the role since his primary relationship is very similar to Natural Born Killers. Kasady’s one bright light is his equally crazy true love Frances Barrison aka Shriek. Shriek is pale in the comics, but casting Naomie Harris made her an exact copy of Black Canary from Birds of Prey. Her mutant ability to emit sonic screams is never explained. Her eye scar is explained when police officer Patrick Mulligan shoots her on her way to the Ravencroft Institute.

Aside from Daily Bugle newspapers, Spider-Man easter eggs are few and far between. Stephen Graham has a big role as Mulligan since he distrusts Brock and suspects him as Venom. Most of Eddie’s supporting cast returns including Michelle Williams as Anne Weying. She’s still in it for a paycheck, but at least she matches the ridiculousness of the story. When Anne reveals her engagement, Venom tries to cheer Eddie up with a messy cooking session. Their bond takes a hit when he visits Cletus after the serial killer gets the death penalty. Since Cletus only wants to see Eddie, he gets close enough to bite him when Venom reveals himself. In the comics, Carnage is the offspring of Venom born while they were in prison. Tasting Brock’s symbiote infected blood makes a little more sense in the movie.

Eddie and Venom “break up” after fighting each other in their apartment. Eddie giving up his power is no different than Spider-Man 2. The only difference is Venom managing to attach his symbiote to other less stable hosts. There’s a lot of Venom in full alien form, but I never expected to see his tendrils giving the finger. Not to mention seeing him attend an underground rave wearing neon bracelets and dropping a mic. Meanwhile, Cletus faces lethal injection for his recently uncovered murders. When Carnage is unleashed, they go on a PG-13 killing spree. The CGI design is larger than the source material and Carnage could be a little redder, but their razor sharp tendrils are just as terrifying as they should be. Harrelson’s Carnage voice maintains his accent, but not a lot of their biting personality.

Kasady’s primary goal is breaking Shriek out of her high security prison. They’re a killer, but ultimately mismatched couple. Since Shriek’s sonic scream is harmful to Carnage. They still plan a red wedding with their respective enemies on the guest list. When Eddie is arrested by an increasingly suspicious Mulligan, Anne is the only person he can call. Convenience store owner Mrs. Chen is given a bigger role when Anne finds her temporarily hosting Venom. Anne’s doctor fiancรฉe Dan is also given a bigger role when he’s made the butt of most of Venom’s insults. She-Venom returns when they break Eddie out of jail and hug the symbiote back onto him. Cletus kidnaps Mulligan for Shriek and Shriek kidnaps Anne in order to get Eddie to their wedding.

The church climax is a lot better than the rocket climax. You can actually tell the difference between Venom and Carnage as they clash in a big CGI fight. It’s the kind of destructive monster duel I’ve only seen in The Incredible Hulk. While Dan tries to help with fire, Shriek provides too much sound for Carnage. Eddie and Venom only get the upper hand when Cletus loses his symbiotic link with Carnage. Kasady makes a tearful plea for Brock’s friendship, but Venom drops an F bomb before biting his head off. Before I have time to process that, Venom goes on the run with Eddie. Mulligan survived his encounter with Carnage, but I didn’t know that meant the possible introduction of Toxin. Eddie accepts the role of Lethal Protector and professes his love for Venom on a beach. It’s not how I expected the movie to end, but the mid credits scene is even more unexpected.

SPOILER ALERT! Eddie and Venom watch soap operas in a hotel room before being unexpectedly transported to an alternate universe. It could only be the work of Doctor Strange’s spell when Venom sees the Daily Bugle news report revealing Peter Parker as Spider-Man. I was excited the moment I heard J. K. Simmons’ voice as J. Jonah Jameson, but seeing Tom Hardy’s Venom on the same screen as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was something I never expected to see. The MCU was growing more all encompassing by the minute. Since my brother and I saw Let There Be Carnage by ourselves, we had to hide the reveal from our parents. Luckily they managed to see it right before Spider-Man: No Way Home came out. In the end, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a chaotic romp that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

15. Venom Let There Be Carnage

Venom drops the mic

Preceded by: Venom

5 thoughts on “Maximum Carnage

  1. This movie as you mentioned is dumb but that’s exactly what adds to it’s comedy!
    It was extremely funny watching Venom in the underground rave party but also kinda cute!
    The best part was definitely the weird couple dynamics Eddie and Venom have!

    The post credit scene added more hype to the much awaited No Way Home but after all that.. it was disappointing not to see Venom there..
    Although at the bar a piece of him was left…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember they advertised this like crazy on TV, so I had a feeling it wouldn’t be as good if the studios felt they really had to push it. The weird bromance between Tom Hardy and Venom though was an interesting touch though.

    Liked by 1 person

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