Review: ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ comforts with campiness and predictability

Andy Serkis’ superhero sequel is goofy in all the best ways. 

%E2%80%9CVenom%3A+Let+There+be+Carnage%2C%E2%80%9D+directed+by+Andy+Serkis%2C+was+released+on+Oct.+1.+The+film+is+an+entertaining+and+enjoyable+superhero+sequel.+%28Image+courtesy+of+Sony+Pictures%29

“Venom: Let There be Carnage,” directed by Andy Serkis, was released on Oct. 1. The film is an entertaining and enjoyable superhero sequel. (Image courtesy of Sony Pictures)

By Justin Martinez, Contributing Writer

I have never seen the first Venom movie and I had no interest at all in seeing its sequel. However, after having now watched “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in theaters, I’ll be the first in line if the third one gets confirmed. 

Now, let me qualify that statement by saying that this is not as good as regular Marvel movies — its characters, plot and depth don’t reach the level of even a mid-tier Marvel Cinematic Universe film. It is, however, much more gripping than most Marvel movies, and it will be fascinating watching Sony and Marvel’s attempts to negotiate any potential crossovers.

The one thing that initially piqued my interest in the film was knowing that it was directed by one of my favorite character actors of all time: Andy Serkis. He imbues every role he plays with vivacity and verve — Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” and Caesar in “Planet of the Apes” are parts that could only be played by someone that understands the value of exaggeration. In “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” Serkis brings this same spirit to his directing style. 

The whole movie commits itself to every single plot point, no matter how silly. Venom is a character who speaks like an angsty teenage boy, albeit one who is eight feet tall and has to eat the brains of humans to survive. The heart of the movie is a bromance between Tom Hardy’s character, investigative journalist Eddie Brock, and the symbiote Venom, a tall mass of black goo with teeth that has attached to Eddie like a parasite. Since the first film, they have become a crime fighting duo as Eddie tracks down criminals and Venom contributes his gargantuan size and strength. They have an endearing relationship akin to an old married couple that completely supersedes the traditional love interest, Eddie’s ex-wife Amy. 

Serkis’ directorial integrity is also present in Woody Harrelson’s character, Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who is exposed to the same symbiote as Venom. He acquires superhuman powers and becomes known as Carnage. Harrelson gives the campiest villain performance imaginable. Both before and after receiving his powers, Kasady appears to possess no internal depth. His only desire is to kill people, get back together with his crazy ex-girlfriend and maybe wear some cool clothes and drive some cool cars. His character embodies the appeal of the whole film — nowhere is there even a hint of depth of complexity, only simple, fun and dumb pleasure.

This film is reminiscent of the ’90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon — it feels like it was written for and by a 12-year-old boy. Every moment is either someone or something being blown up in an impressive special effects sequence or a juvenile slapstick sequence from the dynamic duo bromance. But if you’re looking for a reliable film, it’s only 90 minutes long, knows exactly what it is and never aims to be anything more than a mindless diversion. If you want to see a big budget, special-effects-driven action movie, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the best and silliest one out there.

Contact Justin Martinez at [email protected]