One of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains, Venom, finally got to star in his own live action film in 2018. It was faced with lukewarm reviews from critics and a bit of a cult following from moviegoers. It did, however, make enough money for Sony to keep the series going with a sequel. Venom: Let There Be Carnage hit theaters in late 2021 and received a similar response. Is Venom: Let There Be Carnage a step in the right direction for the “Lethal Protector?” Let’s take a peak at this dark, violent, and humorous comic book flick to find out.
One of the faults of the first movie was that it was difficult to tell the difference between Venom and Riot while they were meshed together while fighting in the dark. This sequel thankfully improves on this, as Venom and Carnage are clearly distinct throughout the whole movie. There’s never confusion over which tendril belongs to which symbiote. Even during more darkly-lit moments or chaotic action sequences, there’s never risk of getting the two mixed up.
One of the strongest elements throughout Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the relationship between Venom and Eddie Brock. They work together like an odd couple in a buddy cop movie, and it’s consistently entertaining. Their banter is absolutely hilarious, and despite their constant bickering, there’s always a sense of caring for each other that they don’t always blatantly bring to the surface. Even though they argue about which people deserve to be eaten, their relationship is weirdly wholesome. The way they express their emotions to each other showcases positive masculinity in the most entertaining way imaginable. A whole movie of just them chatting in their apartment would actually be fun to watch.
The dark humor throughout leads to a twisted good time. It’s the perfect blend of funny and messed up that allows it to stand out from the type of humor that we’ve seen time and time again in other superhero films. It’s also extremely dark without being outright offensive, which can be a challenge to find.
Given the powers and abilities that symbiotes have, the action sequences are extremely creative. Instead of gunplay, laser beams, or martial arts, the symbiotes liquifying and using their bodies to form any weapon they choose while using heightened strength and agility allows for entertaining spectacles that couldn’t be seen anywhere else. This sequel also throws Shriek into the mix to change up which powers we see used during the action, keeping it feeling fresh. The action remains thrilling from start to finish.
This is obviously a special effects-driven movie, so things need to look as real as possible. For liquid alien creatures that take over people’s bodies, it’s safe to say the effects bring the symbiotes to life as much as they possibly can. They certainly look great enough to never break the audience’s immersion, which must have been a rather difficult feat. Venom and Carnage both look fantastic in live action here.
The story ends on an interesting cliffhanger that’s more than enough to excite any viewer for the next installment in the Venom series. With the main characters stuck in a situation where even they don’t know what their next move should be, it’s hard not to wonder what the next sequel would bring.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage suffers from a similar fault as countless other sequels, and that’s that a couple of minor characters only return because they were in the first movie. They feel more like references or callbacks than fleshed out characters. There’s a moment here or there that gives their returns purpose, but there’s otherwise no real justification for them appearing in the sequel.
Like the first movie, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is much goofier than the source material. Yes, the humor in the movie is genuinely hilarious, and the wacky tone is entertaining, but comic book fans looking to see the “Lethal Protector” biting people’s heads off and Eddie having a much darker past may be a little disappointed. It’s also worth noting that the serious and humorous tones the movie attempts to take on don’t always mesh successfully, leading to some awkward contrast.
It may be exciting that the film leaves things open for the story to expand in another sequel, but there’s a plot thread that perhaps should have been closed or teased differently toward the end. Detective Mulligan plays a major role during the story, especially during the third act. However, after a certain point, there’s just no sight of him. Eddie and Carnage escape without making sure he’s okay or wondering where he is. There’s clearly something going on with him judging by his eyes glowing blue, so it’s not like they killed him off instead of showing where his story leads in the next installment. It’s like the filmmakers completely forgot about him rather than trying to set up another cliffhanger.
We’re now two full movies into the Venom series, and they have yet to provide a proper explanation into what exactly symbiotes are, where they came from, and how they work. We now know their blood can reproduce other symbiotes, so why aren’t there even more of them out there? If they’re from an alien planet, why are there multiple conveniently on Earth? Obviously, the source material has much more of an explanation, but it’s something the movies could touch more on.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage suffers from some obvious flaws, but it’s still silly fun that’s filled with hilarious dark humor, wacky banter and heartfelt emotions between Eddie and Venom, and exciting action. It’s goofy and weird, but perhaps should have embraced its goofy and weird side more if they weren’t going to stick with the tone of the comics. It’s an exciting “turn your brain off” type of movie, which leads to a relaxing watch with some surprisingly unique elements to it.