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- Venom: Let There Be Carnage
- Directed by Andy Serkis
- Written by Kelly Marcel
- Starring Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Williams
- Classification PG; 90 minutes
- Available in theatres Oct. 1
There’s an old Jerry Seinfeld joke – or, more accurately, an old Jerry Seinfeld joke by way of a 1992 Saturday Night Live skit – that asks: “What’s the deal with the black box? It’s the only thing that survives the crash! Why don’t they build the whole plane out of the black box???” The new sorta-Marvel film Venom: Let There Be Carnage is basically that faux-joke updated for the 2020s: “What’s the deal with the postcredit scenes in superhero movies? They’re the only good part of the movie! Why don’t they make a whole movie out of postcredit scenes???”
So, yeah, the Venom sequel contains a fun bit at the end – one that should send Marvel acolytes and/or intellectual-property fetishists into a state of pure bliss. But the problem is that you have to spend 89 dreadful minutes with the film before that postcredits scene arrives. Call it a well-deserved reward or an evil act of corporate-storytelling sadism. Either way, I can only offer a warning.
For those who don’t care and want to assault their eyes and other senses, then Venom: Let There Be Carnage (or V2nom, as I’m choosing to stylize it just because) is here for you. Ugly, cheap and dumb-but-not-good-dumb, the film is a throwaway kind of trashy nothingness.
Picking up after the events of 2018′s Venom – in which reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets quasi-possessed by a sentient black alien goo that has a fondness for human brains – this new movie pits our two symbiotic heroes against serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) and his sentient but red alien goo. PG-level chaos ensues across San Francisco, with the Venom/Carnage battle roping in poor Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Hardy’s old Taboo co-star Stephen Graham.
As Venom and Carnage flash their gnarly teeth at one another and exercise their ill-defined superpowers in truly incomprehensible action scenes, you get the sense that no one involved paid much attention to what they were making or why. Especially director Andy Serkis, whose usual devotion to ultradetailed visual effects work is nowhere to be found in V2nom’s dumpster-level CGI.
To be fair, Hardy is having a helluva time. As both Eddie and Venom, the actor indulges all his trademark passions – funny voices, manic sweating, wink-wink bromance – while engaging in extended bits of Three Stooges-esque physical comedy, too. Hardy’s use-it-or-lose-it charm very nearly drowns out the dreadfulness all around him, but ultimately it’s not enough to sustain life. And given that the actor has a “story by” credit here, he deserves more blame than praise.
But hey, be sure to stick around – or duck in after watching another, better movie in the auditorium next door – for that postcredits scene. Maybe V3nom will be a bunch of those stitched together.
In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.