VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace joins the fray.
Venom was a strange film. A Spider-Man film without Spider-Man? But, in any case, it was a film that I found oddly enjoyable despite literally everything going against it. It made enough money, surprisingly, to get a sequel. That sequel is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, directed by CGI legend Andy Serkis.

Like its predecessor, this film is held up by the acting ability of Tom Hardy. Eddie Brock and the symbiote with which he must cohabitate is a very strange form of buddy comedy, which is given life solely by Tom Hardy talking to himself. This banter is punctuated by a rather vicious form of slapstick, leaning more towards The Hitman’s Bodyguard instead of anything lighter in terms of the sheer sociopathy the alien wreaks upon the human.

Balancing Hardy is Woody Harrelson as his opponent, Cletus Kasady and the symbiote Carnage. The two characters form a demented counterpoint to Eddie and Venom, with both trepidation and open malice on their side. This is likewise brought about by Woody Harrelson talking to himself constantly, much in the way that Tom Hardy talks to himself constantly. Harrelson is an actor who is quite capable of pulling off a certain unhinged presence, a sense of worry that something, somewhere, is going to go completely off-kilter in a way nobody could predict, and it works very well for a film with this tone.

That tone, to put it bluntly, is completely bonkers. It contrasts mundanity as is par for the course for superhero movies with a certain wry amusement at the fact that we have characters revolving around an absent hero insulting their human hosts for petty reasons. This is best seen in a scene at a rave, of all things, where Venom tries to act like something resembling a normal human being (for, as always, a given value of normal).

What is frustrating about that zaniness is that it is applied inconsistently. The film tries and fails to balance the absurdity of the symbiotes with a relatively grounded plot consisting of Eddie Brock trying and failing to get back with his ex-girlfriend. It is an attempt to make the story relatable that falls completely flat because, seriously, who watched this movie for relationship drama? Nobody! That’s who!

The other relationship that really sells the film is Cletus Kasady and Frances Barrison, alias Shriek, played by Naomie Harris. The two of them get a very well done backstory in a decrepit, creaking asylum as children turned into monsters by the monstrous environment around them. It doesn’t quite investigate this theme, that of how killers are made and not born, as much as it could have been (and making a more compelling film in the process) but I thought it worked reasonably well.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a serviceable superhero film, by no means the best in the genre but one that is good to entertain you on a night on which you have nothing better to do. It is quite funny at times, and with some good performances held back by an imbalanced script that doesn’t quite understand why people like these movies. It’s solidly B grade.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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