BY MATT TUCK
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a successful upgrade on the original, and to no one’s surprise, Carnage steals the show. Here’s your (mostly) spoiler-free review.
Let There Be Carnage wasn’t without its flaws; the jokes were hit or miss, and it had its share of clumsy, cheesy dialogue. Still it was an improvement from its 2018 predecessor, and that is all I was hoping for. Of course, when even audiences who loved Venom called it “a great bad movie,” the bar has already been set fairly low. By and large, LTBC was a fun movie with just enough horror elements squeezed into its PG-13 rating.
I understand why Sony would want to tone down the violence and language for the sequel. Without spoiling the crowd-pleasing mid-credits scene, the rating falls in line with the bigger picture for Eddie Brock and his lovable, murderous symbiote. Still, there’s part of me that is hoping when the home version is released, Sony has an R-rated director’s cut that is heavier on the horror.
MORE CARNAGE, PLEASE
Like its predecessor, LTBC didn’t need moments of levity from the drama; instead, it needed just the opposite - moments of horror and drama to give audiences a break from the Venom/Eddie Odd Couple slapstick routine. That is not to say the comedy didn’t have its moments. I am a fan of more drama with my comic adaptations, but I cracked a smile at some of Venom’s lines. In fact, the Venom symbiote had the best lines in the entire movie. However, the star of the show was definitely Carnage.
It’s hard not to love Woody Harrelson’s work. No matter what role he plays, Harrelson is always superb, and this was no exception to that. For his skill level, it was more of an average turnout, but that is still better than most actors. Had the film gone deeper into Cletus Kasady’s backstory, then we may have seen a stronger performance. Again, I am crossing my fingers for an extended-edition, R-rated director’s cut.
Aesthetically, director Andy Serkis and the special effects department delivered. Carnage was a massive step up from Riot in 2018’s original. This particular version of the red symbiote was bigger and more imposing than in the comics, but his basic look and tendrils-shaped-into-weapons were enough to make a T-1000 cry. Whenever he came on screen, he had a distinct Absolute Carnage quality, particularly with the size.
DEUS EX SYMBIOTE
MILD SPOILER ALERT
Staying true to the first Venom film, there were plenty of moments that will leave you scratching your head.
Throughout the course of the movie, Carnage was given a few added powers. One of which was a death tornado, and I am fairly certain he has not used that in the comics. It didn’t exactly fit and seemed like a special power up from a video game.
More perplexing was the Carnage symbiote’s superpower over all things electronic. Carnage would insert a tendril into a car to start the engine, and at one point, his magic gave him domain over the internet. Cletus had Carnage hacking into secret police files, cracking passwords and breaking through firewalls, which made absolutely no sense. It came across as lazy screenwriting and as a deus ex machina moment to further the plot.
Despite the leaps in logic and plot holes galore, this was an overall enjoyable entry into the Venom-verse. Between the two movies, I would much rather have seen this one, so there’s that. Here’s hoping for Knull and the Cult of Carnage in the future.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.