TThe oversized world of superheroes on the big screen recently expanded even further than previously thought with a desperate lurch into the multiverse realm, allowing the rules to be rewritten, characters resurrected, and pulling back. public pockets. It was introduced in 2018’s Unusually Clever Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse before being teased in December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer and it will likely be in the genre for years to come, appetite or not. The Venom franchise, which started in 2018 and continues with Let There Be Carnage, exists in an unofficial multiverse of its own: one that eradicates the high and overly serious worlds of Marvel and DC and continues straight from the flip flashiness. From the ’90s Batman movies and the clever simplicity of the 2000s Spider-Man franchise.
The first film was a surprisingly fun, but unsurprisingly throwaway comeback adventure that embraced its blatant Happy Meal madness and didn’t care about the overly complicated world-building and menacing tone of newer comic book fare. It was big and silly and anchored by a wall-to-wall performance by Tom Hardy as a reporter who has to live in the same body as a brain-eating alien, with room for thoughtful actors like Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate and Melora Walters alongside. After it became a bigger-than-expected success, engulfing more than $ 850 million worldwide, a sequel inevitably made its way to the screen, with original director Ruben Fleischer replaced by Someone Who Knows. all about duality: Andy Serkis. But while Serkis and returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel have maintained the lightness of the first film (there’s none of that darker sequel nonsense here) and a dated idea of cool (Howlin ‘For You by The Black Keys is an almost Xavier Dolan-level musical choice in one scene), they lost almost everything else, a bunch of monster porridge that should have been left in the lab.
Hardy, to his credit, is once again working hard for this big paycheck, not having to show as much manic physicality as before, but engaging in the stupidity of it all with all vigor. This time around, his reporter Eddie Brock (who in one scene also appears to be designing the front page of his diary, which is impressive) is inadvertently transferring his alien infused blood to a serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) , which escapes execution using its newly acquired tentacles. Calling himself Carnage, he vows to find Brock and Venom as well as his long lost love, Frances, AKA Shriek (Naomie Harris), whose scream is capable of killing those who are unlucky to hear him.
It’s way more awkward than it looks, but as Marcel tries to raise the bar for the latest film in so many ways, the chaos subsides far too soon. There is a more pronounced bent in the humor of the Venom / Eddie dynamic, but the film remains aggressively little funny throughout, save for a few decent view gags, and so despite Venom’s alleged villainy (which desperately looking to eat brains but has to settle for M & Ms), it often sounds like a movie for kids who might find something stupid to laugh about among the cartilage. There was a homoerotic undertone (unintentionally?) To the first movie, amplified in a 2019 comic in which Spider-Man and Venom were involved in a pleasant scene of sexual flirtation, and Serkis hinted at just how great there is. a strangeness pronounced in the sequel. Venom gets a “coming out” scene at a party that’s “kind of an LGBTQIA festival” in his words, but onscreen everything is predictably blurry and ultimately one of the many scenes that make it up. hint at a more interesting, but denied, take the material. The PG-13 Venom movies take inspiration from R-rated body horror, but back off before things get really gnarly, a frustrating sort of tease of something as cowardly and savage as these movies seem to already think.
As Hardy comes out unscathed, he’s surrounded by actors who don’t get much out of the movie other than money for a down payment on a new beach house. Harrelson tries to conjure up some of his malice Natural Born Killers but feels misinterpreted for the role, acting younger to look like he’s in a reform school at the same time as his childhood sweetheart, played by Harris, 15 years younger, who can barely see. Williams naturally sleepwalks through the few scenes she has, much to the envy of us in the audience who are still awake, barely, for a finale that is all noise and fury but not exactly fun.
It’s at least a short, lasting about 90 minutes, Serkis cuts off any extraneous fat, but it floats and floats without ever forcing us to sit down and pay attention. Let there be no more.