It feels like yesterday when I first experienced the lovable goof and pure unhinged camp of what the Venom franchise from Sony truly is.
Long are the days of questioning morality in a world predicated on the influence of choice, or growing through adversity, and facing our demons. Instead, we have reached a point in history where an odd-couple esque scenario can be executed under the lens of a comic-book film.
I remember seeing the dark and pure saturation of colors and the liquid ooze of our protagonist, in this case, a symbiote who has abandonment issues and longing to find a piece to make him whole. While yearning for chocolate and having marital disputes with a now washed-up journalist trying to regain his credibility.
It sounds irrational on every level, but in a way, it’s kind of comically perfect. To pair up one of Marvel comics’ biggest poster boys in the realm of anti-heroes with Eddie Brock, who is played with finesse and freedom from Tom Hardy.
Now with a sequel hitting theaters, it’s a question of where the series can go or what new height it can reach while staying true to the foundation cemented from its inception back in 2018.
Hardy feels a sense of connection and responsibility to the character from doing behind the scene motion capture or being the voice of his alter ego. In turn, almost an extension of himself because the narrative that we find these two in is the balance of seeking unity but helping one another.
Of course, the great thing about the Venom franchise is the freedom from everyone involved in the production. It understands it’s messy, goofy, out of touch, but it tells a story either way.
This franchise won’t be for everyone, and many will coin or label it as a parody of the cape genre. My response would be in a world of having so many realistic thrillers or tales of moral ambiguity showcasing the flaws of our favorite heroes.
At the same time, residing in our world similar to ours. Sometimes you just need to step back and enjoy some old comic book camp under the guise of pure insanity and overall childhood fun.
The screenplay from the mind of Tom Hardy with Kelly Marcel was what it needed to be. It wasn’t a big end of the world or cinematic juggernaut built up over a shared continuity; instead, it was a quest to find yourself and what makes you unique.
One element worthy of praise was the balance of having an adult lens taking hold centered around a franchise with a dark, gloomy combination of San Francisco architecture, giving a sense of location and verticality.
Along with the gooey comic accurate visuals of Carnage with tendrils and his signature crimson red, Venom looked ripped from the panels of a comic book, and his movement was much more fluid and somewhat balanced. The action was pure insanity, at times feeling fresh and unique, and at other times it was a CGI deathmatch.
It led to my point of the fight scenes between the two powerhouse symbiotes and the distinct personality showcased over the tight and fast-paced run time of 97 minutes. It did have its flaws from the weird narrative and commentary of Venom and Eddie’s relationship, but it also knew the story it wanted to tell.
I wish the film were a little longer, about 20 minutes to let the story grow, give tension to the build-up, and the climax in turn. It attempted to illustrate a sense of duality between Eddie and Cletus, but when the script lets loose, the goof and camp take hold of the reigns in terms of direction.
The film does outdo its predecessor, but the truth is this world or story is reminiscent of the early 2000s when cape flicks were coming into our reality. For example, remember the close camera zoom or the fast-paced shots of a Daredevil 2003 that are present in these films. The characters do play around with the zany nature of the script, and there are some standouts.
It’s not dependent on a CGI green screen being plastered along with a set because it was shot from Serkis on location, showing the balance of reality with a comic book fantasy. The story is solid, but it does lose its footing, and other plot threads do appear and then get bogged down or forgotten the next time a joke seems to the audience.
The venom films are creatures of habit by paying respect to the past and staying within the present. I felt director Andy Serkis did a great job withholding the film together and letting the insanity run rampant all at the same time.
However, that’s not a bad thing at all to think about because, in my opinion, I felt Woody Harrelson stole the show by being quirky, downright funny, and overall eye-opening. Hardy was on top of his game once again by just acting downright crazy, and it worked so well.
I could tell Hardy was having a great time and took the role one step further by fleshing out the humanity lurking inside Venom and Eddie, hence why both continue to be a perfect match for each other in terms of story and casting. It is a dangling plot thread that is addressed for the majority of this film, and in a way, it works.
The reinforcement of a longer run time to let the story breathe and let the audience take in what’s occurring would have been vital to elevating this simple experience to something worthy of remembrance. Instead, it’s another campy reflection of the past before the day’s comic books reflected our lives.
I think that’s the beauty about this side chapter of Sony’s attempt to play in the Marvel sandbox. With characters, such as the fan-favorite Venom, and now the ravenous maniacal offspring Carnage because of the variety present in this universe. I enjoyed seeing different genres under the guise and coat of comic book kino.
Venom 2 doubled down on the crazy, zany tone illustrated through marketing after a year of Synder Cut, Shang-Chi, Suicide Squad and other films with a distinct identity. It felt refreshing to take a step back and just witness and experience the beauty of comic books by seeing the pure zany heart of what these once simple stories truly were for a time.
It’s a laugh-fest — moments of heart sparkle through the stunning visuals and solid direction. A sense of loveable goof is relevant, but it never oversteps and finds a balance of concrete action with a quest to find footing. So I would say check it out, but remember to come for the laughs and leave with the thrill.
‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ is a messy film, but it’s a whole lot of fun, and it leaves you with more questions than answers. It’s full of heart and pure insanity.