Andy Serkis, Tom Hardy, and Woody Harrelson should be a sure-fire combination for an excellent time at the movies. Instead, Venom: Let there be Carnage (2021) was a rehashing of the good elements of the first film that eliminated any character development previously established, with an overly cartoonish villain and some very clunky dialogue. It’s not a bad movie, but those who had hopes that it would improve upon the positives from the first will likely be disappointed.
Eddie Brock and Venom (both Tom Hardy) are still having a hard time coexisting. Brock’s life really isn’t back on track, despite how the first film ended, until Cletus Kasady requests Brock to hear his story. After a few revelations, Brock finds himself back in the limelight – but this newfound success only widens the schism with Venom.
The thing is – it’s not technically a spoiler to mention that Cletus gets his own symbiote and becomes Carnage – but it happens so late into the movie that it feels like one. Even worse, Venom and Carnage don’t really have conflict until the third act – much of which is shown in the trailers. Instead, the film opts to tell a few stories that are loosely connected until the third act brings everything ahead. Many of the scenes are forgettable, and the movie fails to reach the comedic genius of the lobster tank scene from the first film.
The biggest travesty of all is that poor Michelle Williams is dragged into this franchise and barely used. She is such tremendous talent to only be in a few scenes and has such little payoff. Then again, she gets off light compared to the unbelievably talented Naomie Harris, who comes off as very silly as Shriek. Harrelson and she have some of the cringiest lines of dialogue that really remind me of the early Marvel movie campiness that has long since gone out of style. It’s on full display here, and it mostly didn’t work for me.
At the end of the day, Venom: Let there be Carnage is another failure on Sony’s part. The fact that they have one of the best Marvel properties and can’t seem to figure out how to effectively use it is a total shame. Tom Holland’s Spider-man is great – and that is owed to Kevin Fiege, for sure. Here is to hoping that the inevitable Venom 3 will learn from the shortcomings of this film, and actually progress. Venom: Let there be Carnage earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.