Instead of doubling downing on their faults and/or taking the "we'll get their money regardless" approach of many sequels, it appears that Sony has actually listened to some of the criticism and taken stock of what worked and what didn't from 2018's 'Venom'. I know. I was shocked and confused too. I didn't hate 'Venom: Let There be Carnage'. In fact, I kinda liked it. I laughed. I was engaged. I wanted to see what happens next - and before I knew it, it was sadly all over. A tight 97 minutes was all it needed. No wasted time. No lingering on unimportant scenes that added nothing except character depth. Boring! We came for alien symbiotes and epic battles, and 'Let There Be Carnage' delivered... with a little something extra sprinkled throughout.
From the pen of Kelly Marcel ('Fifty Shades of Grey') and the vision of Andy Serkis (yes, that Andy Serkis, 'Breathe') comes the sequel nobody wanted - but wouldn't you know it, I'm glad it's here. Picking up not long after the events of the 2018 film, Eddie Brock and Venom (Tom Hardy, 'Mad Max: Fury Road', 'Inception') are cohabitating in a bizarre version of 'The Odd Couple'. Eddie's career had received a revival thanks to exclusive access to death-row prisoner Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, 'Zombieland' franchise, 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'). However, Venom is feeling frustrated that he doesn't get the respect and recognition from Eddie that he deserves, and he so desperately wants to eat human brains - the "vegetarian" diet of live chickens isn't quite cutting the mustard, with Venom even keeping two as pets that he's loving named Sonny and Cher. During a visit to the prison on the eve of Cletus' execution, Kasady bites Eddie and thus becomes infected with Carnage, another symbiote. By this stage, Eddie and Venom have parted ways, but with Cletus/Carnage on the run and looking for revenge and his lost lady love, they have to find a way back to each other and kick some alien symbiote butt.
Serkis' extensive knowledge and experience in the world of CGI really works wonders here. The inspired shots and CGI manipulation really sing in 'Let There be Carnage'. It makes one wonder what could happen if Serkis and James Cameron ever teamed up. But I digress. The funny thing is, as great as the creatures are and the interactions with each other and the world they inhabit are excellent, Marcel and Serkis have collaborated beautifully to give light and let shine the real reason we're here - the universe's most unlikely bromance. Yes, Eddie and Venom are the real dynamic duo. Their banter and button-pushing are hilarious and so much fun to watch - and the key is Hardy portraying both characters. You can see in his human performance he's able to plot, plan and execute his counterpart to perfection without a third party trying to steer the ship. And he's clearly having a ball. Venom is a complex, charming, romantic and smartarse character with limitless potential, and this film really plays that up. The gals are also having a good time, with both Naomi Harris and Michelle Williams (reprising her role) having careers on the dramatic side of things, getting to cut loose and have fun with their small but memorable roles.
And the real reason we're here - the universe's most unlikely bromance.
I'm honestly looking forward to a third instalment... or perhaps seeing this team even sooner given the film's one and only mid-credit scene. Judging by the audience reaction from the almost full cinema I was sitting in, I'm not the only one excited - which potentially means huge things for the Spider-Verse.