When Venom released, it took a great deal of brain power to truly understand and interpret that wacky, messy, eccentric, incoherent beast of a film. Truly, the lunacy that the film elicits is something I can’t truly put into words today but I still didn’t have the best time for that film. Fast forward to Venom: Let There Be Carnage, is the film more of the same? Well yes… but the experience is entirely different.
Attempting to put my love for this film into words is a challenge as it goes against my innate instincts of watching and interpreting films. I’ll start off by simply questioning the key ingredients of competent filmmaking – does this film have gripping character work? No. Is there any compelling thematic material in this? Absolutely not. Does the film present any sense in its narrative, pace or structure? Nope. There are legitimate inherent problems with the film and I could easily sit here and hash out the things this movie does wrong. However, like Venom: Let There Be Carnage, I understand the mission it has set out to do and that is not trying to be the next The Dark Knight or the next Iron Man.
A big talking point in the movie enthusiast communities is the discourse surrounding the similarity of comic-book films and there is truth to this (However, this is a different conversation). Comic-book films may vary in tone and genre but in a formulaic sense, there is an observable uniformity in plot beats over the course of their three-act structures. Venom: Let There Be Carnage clocks in at a brief 97 minutes and derails any sense of structure within that runtime. Now there are legitimate story elements that would have benefited with more development to make any sense, particularly when it comes to serial killer Cletus Kasady. The shorter runtime allows the film to keep chugging away at a brisk pace and creates a sense of unpredictability helping it to be engaging. I am definitely not suggesting that all comic-book films start mimicking Venom: Let There Be Carnage because it feels like it’d only suit the Venom films – although, I feel like an eccentric character like Deadpool could thrive from a shorter runtime.
Venom (2018) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage are almost identical but a key difference that completely influences my overarching opinion on the film is the self-awareness. When it comes to Venom (2018), you can see that the film is actually attempting to be more than it is – particularly with its set-up being largely exposition. Hell, the film itself is 43 minutes longer than Venom: Let There Be Carnage. This is a film that completely understands its tone, its style and most importantly, its audience and with this, it completely leans into its unique aura that was associated with the first film. Letting go and embracing the indefinable nature of these films allows the film to feel less awkward as it allows the viewer to get engrossed in the film, unlike Venom (2018) where you can feel that pullback from it trying to be better than it is.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage adds no distinction to its predecessor in Venom, you’d think this was shot back-to-back. Almost identical in its visual identity – compromising of poor lighting, thoughtless camera motion and shot selection masked in a heavy layer of unconvincing CGI. While I am a fan of the character design in this adaption of Venom, the CGI has always rubbed me the wrong way as it comes across as cheap and ill-defined. I’d even go as far to say that Spider-Man 3 visual effects for Venom are just as compelling, probably even to a higher degree. The CGI isn’t awful by any means but it comes across as flat and with that, it hampers how captivating the action can be. The movements feel unique and distinct to symbiotes, courtesy of motion capture technology – a huge strength in Serkis repertoire. Taking over from Ludwig Göransson, Marco Beltrami serves as the composer for this film and creates entirely new themes for each character. Beltrami gets pretty experimental in his composition across all the main themes and ties them all together in the climax of the film which fits what the movie wants to be – nothing more, nothing less.
If Venom (2018) was trying to be clever and cool then Venom: Let There Be Carnage is trying to be dumb and droll – it totally understands what it wants to be and it works. It’s amusing, it’s campy, it’s fun and that’s all there really is to it. It raises the question, does a film really need all the right filmmaking ingredients to be considered good or can it solely rely on its own unique artistic elements.
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