Review: “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” – Sony’s ‘Lethal Protector’ returns, with more laughs and killer symbiotes


Ben Kaiser, News Editor

When “Venom” came out in 2018, it was met with mixed reviews. It wasn’t rated R like the diehard comic fans wanted. It wasn’t part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man isn’t involved at all. How can you have Venom without Spider-Man?

Regardless of reviews, “Venom” got enough of fans’ positive reactions to make more sequels, bringing in one of Venom’s biggest enemies: Carnage. He was teased at the end of the first movie with Woody Harrelson in a very ridiculous wig. I mean, he’s still wearing a wig for the sequel, but at least it was less goofy-looking, mostly…

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis. Serkis is probably more familiar as the actor who played Smeagol/Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” franchise. While having a reputation for acting in motion caption, Serkis has been directing films since 2017. His directed films include “Breathe,” a romantic biopic, and “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” another “Jungle Book” film from Netflix. Serkis seems to go for different kinds of movies to direct, but they get good reviews.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings back Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) as Eddie Brock/Venom and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”) as Anne Weying. New to the sequel are Woody Harrelson (“Zombieland”) as Cletus Kasady/Carnage, Naomie Harris (“James Bond” series) as Frances Barrison/Shriek, and Stephen Graham (“This is England”) as Detective Mulligan.

After the events from the previous movie, Eddie Brock and his alien symbiote, Venom, have been working together as San Francisco’s ‘Lethal Protector.’ Eddie is also rebuilding his reporter career, starting with exclusive interviews with notorious serial killer Cletus Kasady. Through these interviews, Brock discovers graves of Kasady’s unknown victims and uses this discovery to revive his career.

This pushes Kasady to his death penalty; it also arouses suspicion from Detective Mulligan, who has been linking Brock to other mysterious disappearances (most likely bad guys that Venom ate). Before Kasady’s execution, Brock gets one more interview out of him. Kasady attacks and bites Brock’s hand, tasting more than just blood; he bites off a piece of Venom. This part of Venom turns into a new, red alien symbiote, Carnage.

Kasady, now bonded with Carnage, breaks out of prison and frees his childhood love, Shriek. Shriek has supersonic screaming powers (don’t bother asking where she gets these powers, the movie never explains it), which is also a weakness to both Venom and Carnage. Before the homicidal couple can go on a killing spree, they hunt down Eddie’s ex-fiancée, Anne Weying, and Detective Mulligan to lure Venom into a big Marvel movie fight showdown.

So, right off the bat, the humor between Eddie Brock and Venom is one of the best perks of this movie. Venom wants to keep fighting bad guys and biting their heads off, and Eddie wants to focus on being a reporter again. They become more of a bickering couple, arguing and fighting with each other through half the movie. No joke, this is nearly a romantic comedy movie, depending on how you want to stretch out your definition of romantic.

They separate, with Venom jumping from host to host and enjoying itself at a rave club. Everyone sees Venom’s appearance as an extreme costume and the alien unloads its frustration of dealing with Eddie to the crowd. Something about Venom opening up on stage about being a repressed ‘other’ trapped in a bad relationship while covered in glow sticks is just priceless.

I also love a scene where Eddie is begging Venom to re-bond with him to fight Kasady, and the symbiote is being over-the-top while thinking it over. Venom is hilarious in this one!

Woody Harrelson as Carnage was a great casting choice. Harrelson played a psychopathic serial killer back in Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” so a role like Cletus Kasady should be familiar to him. Harrelson looked like he had fun playing this role, having dramatic to playful moments through the film. There’s not much more to say about his character because this movie is pretty short, which is a shame. After all, Carnage was one of my favorite Spider-Man villains in the comics.

I enjoyed “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” but there are a few problems here. One was the film’s length, as I said before. The movie is only 97 minutes. To give you an idea of how short this was, Venom and Carnage only fight once in the whole movie. There was just enough time for Kasady to get the symbiote, turn into Carnage, free his psycho girlfriend, and kidnap the people aaand Venom and Carnage fight!

There are barely any scenes of Venom fighting other bad guys and protecting people, despite that being the main thing Venom and Brock keep arguing over. I only remember them stopping one purse snatcher that Venom wanted to eat.

Another thing was a lack of explanation for different events. Things like why the Carnage symbiote wanted to kill its ‘father,’ Venom. Or why did the part of Venom that Kasady bit off turn into another alien? Why is Carnage red? Why is Venom scared of red symbiotes? Why does Shriek have supersonic abilities in a world that doesn’t have superheroes and villains (this isn’t the MCU)?

I know why because I grew up with these comics. But I have a strong feeling that casual Marvel fans are going to be a bit confused about what’s going on unless they got a handy comic nerd nearby…

Like the first movie, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” has its flaws to it, but both are still pretty fun movies. “Let There Be Carnage” feels like more of an improvement from its last film. The sequel adds in more humor, especially the banter between Venom and Eddie.

I was laughing from Venom way more than I was expecting to. Who knew an alien parasite would have such personality to it? I just wish Carnage got as much treatment. Maybe another sequel, or who knows what Marvel has in store with everything going on with this Multiverse?

Even though this isn’t a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, there IS a mid-credits scene. And it is worth sticking around to watch. I’m pretty excited to see where this franchise goes next with Venom.