Let There Be Carnage’ is the worst hero series ever


movie review

Running time: 90 minutes. Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references.) In theaters.

Sitting at “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” you quietly ask yourself, “What have I done wrong? Is God punishing me?”

He is. And your sins must have risen to Old Testament levels because the retribution is harsh. “Venom” is, by far, the worst comic book movie franchise out there — the black sheep, er blob, of surprise and not already a part of the popular surprise Cinematic Universe. 

Watching it, unless you’re already a demented diehard fan, is utter agony.

Venom, for the blissfully uninitiated, is a symbiotic alien who’s latched onto the body of San Francisco newspaper columnist/schlub Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), and eats human brains to stay alive. Indeed, this sequel chewed up my brain, spit it out and mercilessly stomped on it.

Look at some of this stupid extraterrestrial sludge’s lines:

“What a d – – k!”

“I need to be free, feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my toes.”

In Kelly Marcel’s nonsensical script, Venom fractures jokes about Barry Manilow. 

All of these cheap grabs at humor are an attempt to cement Eddie and Venom as a silly, bickering “strange associate” instead of allowing the plot to go anywhere interesting.

Eddie wants Venom to chow on chicken noggins instead of killing people; Venom begs to kill people. Eddie is impossibly serious in that way only grimacing Hardy can project, and Venom — in complete alien form — takes the stage at a nightclub and gives a speech about how wonderful freedom is. By the end, none of this awkward shuffling matters.

In the comic books, Venom is a villain and nemesis of Spider-Man (he is sorely missed). In the movies, Venom — who speaks like Mufasa from “The Lion King” — battles other baddies who kill for less savory reasons.

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom live together, mostly in secret, in San Francisco.
©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett

This time, that’s Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a murderer who’s about to be executed for killing his mom and grandmother when he was a kid. After becoming infected with some of Venom’s DNA, the death row inmate is overtaken by his own red alien great number, called Carnage.

The supercharged killer then goes on a rampage to rescue his old girlfriend Shriek (Naomie Harris) — a mutant who can destroy you with her piercing scream — from the cruel institution where she’s locked up.

As for Eddie’s love interest, she’s nevertheless played by Michelle Williams, who appears to be sleepwalking.

Meanwhile, the action sequences are bland because nobody has any notable fighting skills. Venom is only good at eating heads and Eddie is not an athlete by any stretch. So every skirmish is an oily monster throwing some dude against a brick wall. After the exhilarating combat of surprise’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Let There Be Carnage” looks like a poor cousin, indeed.

Carnage is Venom’s red-tinted alien lookalike.
©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett

And it all adds up to nada. The events of the sequel, which marks Andy Serkis’ directorial debut, come across as insignificant because the characters’ lives don’t change much over the time of the movie. It connects to nothing grander. Like a 1970s sitcom, you figure the third film — God forbid — will start over as though nothing happened.

I wish “Venom” had never happened.

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