WARNING: THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE MOVIE VENOM 2: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage is the second installment of Sony’s new portrayal of Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) as Venom. The first movie ended with the teaser of one of the most fan favorite characters in the entirety of the Spider-Man brand, Cletus Kasady aka Carnage (played by Woody Harrelson). Carnage is known to be one if not the most violent and brutal out of all of Spider Man’s villains. Ths movie as well as the previous were critiqued by fans for being rated PG-13 opposed to rated R. The movie is currently sitting at 59% on the tomato meter and 85% on audience score.
As a viewer I thought the movie was definitely entertaining but far from flawless. The movie has a 1 hour and 30 minute run time which is well below the average for blockbuster movies released recently. The run time itself is a double edge sword. It was very refreshing to watch a shorter movie that gets right to the point. It doesn’t waste much time and stays pretty consistent throughout. However, the new characters could have also benefited from slightly more development. I also would say that the story itself is very simple and not the most satisfactory. While I think the product was consistent, the general approach was definitely risky from a critical view. This movie clearly does not take itself seriously. It is goofy for a large majority of the runtime and jokes are cracked even before the most tense/climactic scenes. While I do enjoy this one personally more than the first, I still believe that choosing the character Carnage for a movie of this nature was not the best decision. Lots of fans, myself included, were looking forward to seeing a more serious and sinister live action version of Carnage. This is where I believe the majority of complaints regarding the PG-13 rating stems from. The movie opens with the introduction of the character Shriek (Frances Barrison (played by Naomie Harris)) who, like in the comics, serves as Cletus’s love interest. She has the power to heavily manipulate sound. Right from the start we are informed about how they were forcefully separated. Shriek was put into a heavily guarded facility and Cletus was put into San Quentin State Prison. Cletus’s main motivation is to break out and reunite with her.
We fast forward to present day Eddie and Venom. They are having inner struggles and frequently getting into arguments with each other. Venom continuously tries to convince Eddie that he needs to eat human brains or chocolate to survive (he has been living off of chicken brains and chocolate). Venom complains about the size of the chicken brains expressing his desire to fight “bad guys” again. This movie commits to the comedy aspect of these characters and executes it miles better than the first. In my opinion the most enjoyable parts of this movie were the moments between them. Venom even attempts to comfort Eddie after the news that Anne (his ex-wife) is getting married. Soon after, Eddie is appointed to interview Cletus. We learn some backstory about Cletus and how he killed his grandmother by pushing her down a flight of stairs. In one of the interviews Cletus strikes a nerve with Eddie mentioning his dead mother (who died from childbirth) causing Venom to lose his patience and start a short confrontation from the other side of the holding cell. Cletus manages to bite into the side of Eddie’s thumb. He then remarks about knowing the taste of blood and how that was not it. Unknown to Eddie and Venom, Cletus now has the symbiote Carnage (venom’s more powerful offspring) merged with his blood.
This outburst from Venom is the final straw for Eddie. This combined with the already existing conflict between the two is what causes them to separate. They both want to prove they can last without each other. I don’t like this decision because we already spent a lot of time in Venom 2018 working on bringing these two together. While I think this plot point in the movie is the weakest, there was enough build up to make the side plot itself fairly logical.
With them separated we get to see Venom venture out into the world taking random hosts to survive along the way. This solo journey starts pretty light-hearted. He even visits a costume party and people praise what they believe to be an outfit. A scene I really like from this portion is when he takes center stage and starts a small rant about how he doesnt need Eddie. It’s all going well until his hosts start dying at a fairly rapid pace. Venom eventually comes to accept that he’s very compatible with Eddie. Eddie on the other hand is enjoying life without Venom. He cleans up his apartment and sits with no worry about a demanding alien nagging in his ear.
While Venom and Eddie are separated Cletus is finally sent in for the death penalty. Cletus lays in a chair strapped down. His face grows smug and we are delivered a very fitting reveal. Blood rises from his hands and Cletus starts shaking violently. The restraints snap and the lights go out. An entire crowd of people surrounding him, eagerly awaiting his death, are now helpless victims to the dark. There is a slight audio queue building up. It continues to rise and then goes silent as Carnage screeches in rage. The lights flicker momentarily revealing the symbiote carnage in all its glory. Merged with an unpredictable serial killer the two of them cause absolute havoc to the entire prison. The movie would have benefited heavily if this scene had the potential to be more violent. Nonetheless the design for Carnage is absolutely stunning. Just like the first movie the design for symbiotes was definitely a strong suit. The visuals here are truly impressive and show how much the SGI has evolved. Everything is texturized well and the movements are smooth and easy to follow. The lighting in this scene and the remainder of the fight scenes are also miles better than the previous. Sony proved they learned their lesson with dark backgrounds. This movie has bright backgrounds combined with good lighting during most fight scenes making it way more enjoyable. Colors are way more vibrant here; it’s not difficult to see what’s actually happening this time around.
We switch back to Eddie and It doesn’t take long for his joy to fade out. He turns on the television to not only see that Cletus has escaped but also the destruction that has been done. He hears stories of people seeing a monster and now knows that Cletus has a symbiote.
Carnage wants to destroy Venom to solidify his spot as the only symbiote and Cletus wants to reunite with Shriek. They quickly come to a compromise and agree to do both. Cletus manages to break out Shriek with impressive ease and speed using Carnage. This major plot point is solved a little too quickly. On the other hand the breakout scene is quite visually appealing. Carnage wraps around the cell and with its sheer force crushes the entire cell.
Eddie gets taken in to questioning to see what he knows. Anne helps out a distressed Eddie and finds Venom. Venom makes Eddie apologize and the two are finally brought back together. Eddie tells Anne to leave the city and her husband (the doctor from the last movie) ensures her safety. Eddie is quickly brought back to distress when he learns that they were both taken by Cletus on the way out. The final battle takes place in a cathedral since Cletus and Shriek decided to get married on the spot. Since the symbiotes are both weak to sound the church bell was obviously used throughout the fight as a plot device. I don’t love this story choice considering that Shrieks powers are used for the same reason.
Venom and Eddie arrive and Venom is immediately intimidated by Carnage. Venom is on the verge of backing down until Eddie says that he can eat their brains. Venom is very pessimistic even comedically stating that they are both going to die. The fight begins and Shriek tries to use her powers to help Cletus. This makes Carnage shriek in pain. He shouts at her to stay quiet and throws her to the side. This starts the divide between Cletus and Carnage. Venom proceeds to approach Carnage while getting utterly destroyed. Getting pinned to the wall multiple times showing how Carnage is way stronger than Venom on a physical level. The fight continues and Venom ends up crushed beneath rubble barely able to move. Carnage snaches Anne and rises up to the top of the cathedral. Venom and Eddie have a monologue stating that they are a more compatible match than them. The symbiotic relationship that they have is far more stable than Cletus and Carnages. With their combined power they break out from underneath the wreckage and start chasing Carnage to the top. Carnage attempts to finish off Anne but they manage to grab her just in time bringing her to safety. Venom baits shriek into using her power and both symbiotes detach from their hosts. The building slowly collapses and everyone begins to fall. Shriek gets crushed by the church bell and Venom attaches to Eddie just before he hits the ground (saving him). Cletus attempts to get up and approach Carnage on the ground but Venom grabs the weakened symbiote and proceeds to eat him whole. Cletus attempts to negotiate with Eddie playing the victim. Venom is simply done and quite literally bites his head off.
Carnage in this scene looks even more impressive. As he rises to the top of the cathedral he grows immensely in size and grows even more lethal limbs. I think the use of Shriek is not a very unique way to finish Carnage off. Especially since towards the end his death is played off as a joke. However the scene where Venom bonds with Eddie before hitting the ground is captivating. I think this movie could have been a higher quality if it did choose a more serious approach. I think then the Shriek plot could have been removed and more time could have been spent developing Cletus/Carnage and Eddie/Venom’s relationship. Obviously the studio went the more comedic route this time around.
SPOILERS FOR THE POST CREDIT SCENE OF VENOM 2: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
In the post credit scene Venom and Eddie are both on a vacation looking forward to their next adventure together and seem to finally be at inner ease. They are in a tropical area laying down in what I could only guess is a hotel room. A light flashes in the background and an echo vibrates through the frame shaking everything. The tv switches channels to reveal J. Jonah Jameson (played by J K Simmons) talking about the menace himself Spider-Man! The news broadcast switches frames and reveals the web slinger played by none other than Tom Holland himself. Venom licks the screen stating “that guy” in a menacing tone as if he knows about him. This is the same Jonah from the MCU and possibly even the Rami trilogy. This not only confirms a connected multiverse, but also opens up insane potential for future films. There’s even a possibility (and what I believe to be a decently high likelihood) of this Venom appearing in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Which is already one of the most anticipated films of all time (given the trailer broke record views). This skyrockets my hype for No Way Home even more!
Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage is a sequel that I believe does something that I typically would view as an achievement; it surpasses the first. However, I think that bar isn’t that hard to pass this time around, nor do I think this movie is exceptional. I would say that it’s worth a one time watch. If you try not to take it too seriously it can be a fun time. I only hope we continue to see improvement in the future of this character!