‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ expands on Eddie, Venom’s dynamic relationship, suffers from lackluster on-screen violence

Chandler Rowley, Life and Arts Reporter

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the sophomore release of Tom Hardy’s parasite pal in the Sony Spider-Man Universe, follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as he grapples with balancing his career as an investigative journalist while simultaneously serving as the human host for a symbiote with an insatiable appetite for brains.

Brock faces a precarious situation when convicted serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), bites him and in turn allows the leech Carnage to take hold. Brock must race to stop Kasady as he attempts to reconnect with his old, equally nefarious flame, Frances (Naomie Harris), before they turn their vengeance toward Brock himself.

Directed by Andy Serkis, the film expands greatly on the relationship dynamic between Brock and Venom, allowing for the audience to experience their idiosyncratic interactions firsthand. They bicker and fight like an old couple, yet there’s an unspoken respect for one another. Both struggle to maintain an identity independent from the other and remain unable to do so. Only after separating do they realize the importance of a symbiotic, respectful relationship that addresses both of their needs.

Robert Richardson, the cinematographer of the film, successfully contrasts the bright lights of metropolis San Francisco with the looming darkness brought forth by Carnage’s propensity for brutality. However, with a PG-13 rating, the moody atmosphere accompanies relatively unsatisfying on-screen violence, which would have greatly complimented the sinister ambiance of the film. 

With stunning fight scenes and CGI, especially during the final sequence between Venom and Carnage, the character design of the two symbiotes allowed for each respective personality to physically manifest, creating a dichotomy of controlled violence (Venom) and reckless destruction (Carnage).

Woody Harrelson channels the same energy as Mickey Knox in “Natural Born Killers,” but  comes across a bit cartoonish and derivative during the first half of the film. Once he escapes prison and displays his bravado and swagger on the streets, his performance flourishes. However, his relationship with Frances rests largely unexplored, forcing her to come across as a one-dimensional character despite a strong showing from Naomie Harris. 

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” benefits exponentially from hefty appearances by the entire cast and realistic CGI during the action sequences. Where the film falls short narratively and atmospherically, it makes up for through the artistry of performance and high quality fight scenes.

3 brains out of 5