Marvel fans could be described as passionate and intense, yet they weren’t exactly demanding that a second Venom movie be released. Despite this, now we have VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE, a movie that is created with decent enough concepts and intentions, but which, in execution, ends up being one of the uninspired and difficult to stomach superhero films of the past couple of years. The Disney superhero films are known for their use of awkward humor, for better or for worse — LET THERE BE CARNAGE, a Sony-produced film, makes Marvel look like comedic geniuses by delivering an onslaught of flat and downright boring comedy that makes this Venom film come across as the worst buddy comedy since the Will Ferrell Sherlock Holmes movie.
The previous Venom movie — which, although by no means great, looks amazing in comparison to its sequel — included a decent amount of humor that revolved around Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, a struggling journalist, and Venom, a parasitic alien who attaches himself to Brock and begins a strange friendship with him while supplying superpowers. The humor was very much a polarizing aspect of the first film, and with LET THERE BE CARNAGE, Hardy (who is both a writer and producer on the film) and crew decide to double down on the humor and get rid of almost everything else that could have made this movie even the slightest bit interesting.
The film has almost no actual plot besides the relationship between Venom and Brock, and a cheesy serial-killer villain played by Woody Harrelson who also gets a symbiote similar to Venom (but more powerful somehow? This is never explained) inside him because he bites Eddie and tastes his blood. Not once was I actually invested upon either the villain or the protagonist, nor were there any stakes for any of the numerous CGI fight sequences that fill this movie. I understand that the filmmakers were looking to create a goofy and ridiculous action romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but they neglect almost everything that makes a movie good in the process, rendering any attempt at camp moot. If one makes a ridiculous and goofy movie, and then proceeds to forget good plot, humor or characters, I don’t see any point in producing said movie.
None of the acting is terrible in this, but Hardy, Harrelson, and especially Michelle Williams feel as if they’re trying to make the most of a script that was written without much thought or care injected into it. The expository dialogue near the beginning of the film feels like it was taken from an “exposition dialogue generator” that someone Googled for lack of a better source. Some of the jokes throughout this movie are somewhat funny in concept, but in execution the punchlines rarely land, making the majority of scenes feel as if the characters are part of an inside joke that nobody told you about.
I must say, I was skeptical going into LET THERE BE CARNAGE for one big reason: the runtime. The movie clocks in at exactly an hour and 30 minutes, which is the shortest it can physically be while getting a theatrical release from the studio. Very few movies I have seen can make that short of a runtime work, and almost all of them are either animated films or horror films. Going in, I expected LET THERE BE CARNAGE to be a rushed and disorganized experience to some extent, and unfortunately I was spot on. The first 30 minutes seem as if the writer was trying to get through as many exposition plot elements as fast as humanly possible, making none of these elements feel believable or interesting at all. Even though I didn’t want to sit in the theater with this film longer than I had to, I feel the movie would improve if 15-20 minutes were added to give the characters more weight or to give the story more of a dramatic pulse. Instead, it seems the filmmakers did the bare minimum that was possible in the storytelling department, which at the very least makes for a movie that won’t waste too much of the audience’s time.
It seems that VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE is making more money than any film to be released since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, which makes me lose some of my faith in humanity (Although to be fair, I contributed by spending eight dollars to see this film). I am just hoping that this success doesn’t mean the studio will decide to fund three more Venom films of the same quality. In about two months, I feel that the world will forget this movie existed, save for the after-credits scene, which is more interesting than the rest of the movie combined even though it makes no sense. Maybe I just have no sense of humor, but VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE struck me as one of the biggest misfires of the year from a major studio, and I very much hope that if more movies are made with these characters that they vastly improve almost everything.