Coming to grips with the past is the centerpiece of Bleecker Street’s family drama Montana Story. Writing and directing duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel collaborate again for the film, which I must warn viewers is a slow-moving drama.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a fun sequel
Andy Serkis makes a return to the world of Marvel, this time as director for Columbia Pictures Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Tom Hardy returns as investigative journalist Eddie Brock, the host of an alien symbiote named Venom that imbues him with super-human abilities. Over a year has passed since the events of the original film, and we find that Eddie Brock is struggling to adjust to Venom. On top of that, he still harbors feelings for his ex-fiancée Annie Weying (Michelle Williams), and his career is going nowhere.
Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). Then, after a series of events, Cletus becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution. Like Venom, Carnage belongs to a race of amorphous extraterrestrial parasites known as Symbiotes, forming a symbiotic bond with their hosts and giving them super-human abilities. Originating as an offspring of Venom, Carnage is much more potent than his parent symbiote because of the symbiotes’ biology and is, in many ways, a darker version of Venom. Realizing they must save the day, Eddie and Venom swing back into action to not only stop Cletus, but supervillain Frances Barrison / Shriek (Naomie Harris) as well.
While Venom: Let There Be Carnage is based on a Marvel comic character, the film is not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Instead, it is the second film of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSMU), following the original movie. At the same, time though, Venom: Let There Be Carnage takes place in its own world, with its characters unaware of other heroes, such as Spider-Man. Nevertheless, the film does have some references to the wider Marvel Universe, and these include the Daily Bugle newspaper and other Easter eggs fans will spot with ease.
Kelly Marcel, who wrote the first film, returns for the sequel, collaborating with star Tom Hardy on script. The duo wants Hardy to have a fun time portraying Venom, explaining the film’s short run time. Venom: Let There Be Carnage clocks in at a brisk ninety minutes, so those looking for a ton of character development may find fault with the film. The backstories for our villains are quick, which means the always-delightful Woody Harrelson does not get a chance to fully bring the Mickey Knox persona into 2021.
In addition, Oscar Nominee Naomie Harris comes off as more of a placeholder than an actual character. Outside of Hardy, the rest of the cast all give performances that reek of contractual obligations. Nevertheless though, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the Tom Hardy show, and the talented actor is having a blast portraying an odd couple; as you know Hardy voices Venom while portraying Brock.
Some great moments of physical comedy and dialogue genuinely highlight Hardy’s talent. Kudos to director Andy Serkis for juggling the angle of Venom trapped in Brock’s body and just wanting to be the “Lethal Protector,” which distracts Brock from work and putting his life back together.
My recommendation is to go into Venom: Let There Be Carnage not expecting the same flair as the Marvel Cinematic Universe but instead, more of an enjoyable B-Flick.
Final Grade: B-
Venom: Let There Be Carnage opens in theaters today
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