Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
EDDIE'S APARTMENT — Spider-Man's favorite anti-hero is ready to jump back into the theaters. "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is headed to cinemas, and the big-budget action flick has some surprises, disappointments, highlights and downright weird moments.
The movie is a sequel to 2018's "Venom." When I reviewed that film, I said it was a mixed bag of good and bad. I have to say the sequel is more of the same.
Here are a few reasons I really liked "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" and a few reasons I really didn't like it.
The buddy action of Eddie Brock and Venom
Tom Hardy is a bit of a polarizing actor. It seems people either really like him or really don't. I happen to be in the former group. I don't love all of his films, but I like his style and I think he has more of a range than some realize. That range is on display here.
Hardy plays Eddie Brock, but he also does the voice of Venom and the exchanges between the two of them are hands down the best part of the movie. The banter and tension in their relationship remind me of the great buddy action movies of the past like "Lethal Weapon," "48 Hours" and "Shanghai Noon." It's the relationship of the two leads that make the movie a great time. It just so happens the buddies in this movie are played by Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy.
I laughed out loud on a number of occasions at the dialogue between Eddie and Venom and found I actually cared about their relationship.
It doesn't take itself too seriously
One of the cardinal sins of comic book movies, in my book at least, is taking itself too seriously. That's why the first two "Thor" movies did not work for me. The third, however, knocked it out of the park because it stopped taking itself so seriously and embraced its own absurdity.
I feel like "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" does that, as well.
It's a movie about an alien goo that attaches itself to a reporter and they become symbiotic and turn into a giant, black monster. Then a serial killer bites the reporter and turns into a giant, red monster. It's all a bit silly, and director Andy Serkis recognizes that and treats it as such.
There is still drama, and you tend to care about the characters — at least some of them — but the movie never dives too deep down the drama hole. That's a good thing in this case.
The villains don't work
I am a fan of Woody Harrelson. I mean, how do you not like Woody from "Cheers?" Regardless, I tend to like his work. That said, I think he tried here but it just didn't work. I would chalk more up to the writing than his performance, but I wasn't buying it.
Harrelson plays Cletus Kasady, an imprisoned serial killer on death row. Kasady has a girlfriend, Frances Barrison, played by another fine actor, Naomie Harris. But despite their best efforts, neither of these actors can make me interested in these characters. Every time we were following them I just wanted to get back to Eddie and Venom and start enjoying the film again.
Great effort by two good actors, but the material itself wasn't doing them any favors.
What parents should know
Much like its predecessor, the Venom sequel is PG-13 bordering on that R rating. There is a lot of violence, and some of it is fairly brutal. There is no blood shown but plenty of mayhem is going on off-screen, and some on-screen. We hear about some of Kasady's past exploits, and they could be disturbing for some audiences. Especially younger ones.
There is also a fair amount of language throughout the film, including some words you don't always hear in a PG-13 movie.
The movie earns its PG-13 rating and is pushing the R.
I didn't love "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," but I also didn't hate it. The movie has some problems, but with a tight run time of 90 minutes, it's not a huge investment. For my money, almost everything outside the Eddie/Venom relationship is a bit of a slog, but that relationship is so good it just may be worth checking out.
"Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references.