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Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Andy Serkis
scr Kelly Marcel
prd Avi Arad, Tom Hardy, Kelly Marcel, Hutch Parker, Amy Pascal, Matt Tolmach
with Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, Reid Scott, Peggy Lu, Sian Webber, Jack Bandeira, Olumide Olorunfemi, Sean Delaney, Little Simz
release UK 15.Oct.21
21/UK Sony 1h37
Is it streaming?
Tom Hardy is back as the mild-mannered journalist who hosts a man-eating symbiotic alien for a second comical flurry of mayhem. With a brisker story and stronger characters, the uncontrolled craziness is more watchable this time around, although director Andy Serkis can't resist deploying whiplash camerawork while cranking the volume up to 11. And fans will enjoy some genuinely funny moments amid the bonkers nastiness.
In San Francisco, Eddie (Hardy) is struggling to keep the misbehaving Venom under control inside him, while death row inmate Cletus (Harrelson) taunts Eddie by dropping enigmatic clues into exclusive interviews. Then after biting Eddie, Cletus develops his own super-parasite, Carnage, which helps him bust out of prison and rescue his childhood sweetheart Frances (Harris), who has mutant shrieking vocal chords. Together they go on a rampage of revenge, targeting Eddie as well as the cop (Graham) who once shot Frances. But can Eddie and Venom learn to work together in order to stop Carnage?
Silly question. There's never any doubt about where this is going, so the cast and crew just get on with the jokey dialog and violently cartoonish action. Effects work is over the top, and the constant barrage of noise and motion forces the audience to anxiously hang on for the ride. Along the way there are some nice touches in Eddie's journey, as he has to come to terms with the fact that his girlfriend Anne (Williams) loves someone else (Scott). And both Eddie and Venom need to accept that they're made for each other.
While Hardy's role is relentlessly silly, he manages to underscore it with an edge of both frustration and emotional exhaustion. And his best scenes involve arguing with himself. Williams gets in on the fun briefly, but Anne is essentially a prop for the massively destructive action climax. Graham grounds the film somewhat, but is also sidelined later. And Harrelson and Harris show hints of personality in between the broad nuttiness.
It does help that Marcel's script attempts to layer some nuance into the various relationships, even if most of it is drowned out by the near-apocalyptic explosions. At least Eddie and Venom have an intriguing narrative arc over the course of the movie, spending some time apart rom-com style before the messy finale in a cathedral. It never quite makes sense, and it's too chaotic to fit together very meaningfully, but there's some fun to be had along the way.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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