16 January 2022 715 Views

I finally saw VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE..

by James Murphy

And…well..It is eminently miss-able in every way!

I remember sharing all the trailers and hype. That is what I ‘do’, as a nod to the ‘viral’ heritage from which the site was born. But I also made it fairly clear that the film itself (VENOM 2..LET THERE BE..woteva)..did not interest me. I had enjoyed and praised the first film but felt it a one and done job. I disliked the lack of tonal definition, too, in the pitch for the sequel. If you have a serial killer baddie, then you cannot really fuse that to buddy cop fun for all adventure thrills and slapstick comedy. Ok, you could do, IF this were an original property, some subversive take on the Marvel et al products? Except it isn’t. This is as mainstream and safe as comic book movies can get.

What are the good points? There are laughs aplenty. And it is paced well, never outstaying its welcome entirely. A solid action finale, via ticking clock. Think Perils of Pauline with super heroic /villainous alien parasites attached. Some genuinely moving and insightful lessons on friendship, being yourself and yet somehow still playing a role fate has dealt you. For a change, this feels like an actual, direct sequel to something, rather than yet another expectation subverting spin on a jaded production line. In that sense, the piece is as unpretentious as the first movie.

So yes, you will be entertained in moments and frankly, lose nothing by watching it. But we have come to expect more from our blockbusters. So much more. Not in the sense of the Chris Nolan philosophy seminar via Dark Knight or even the new Marvel identity politics. There is a convention, nonetheless, of at least trying to reach into new territory and sneaking art-house motifs through a gateway of sheer hokum. VENOM Let there be…lacks even the ambition to be pretentious!

This is a pedestrian film, at best. And for all the fun and inanity and lack of stretching dramatic muscles? There remains a tonal confusion. Who is this made for? What age group? One could accept its infantile puerility IF there were not a mad serial killer (Woody Harrelson, kinda phoning it in imho), who bites the hero, tastes his blood and teases a series of lost corpses like some real life evil counterpart.  Child abuse and psychiatric wards also make an appearance here. As does what looks suspiciously like devil worship black mass wedding in a Church, matched by the Mozart Requiem. WHHHHYYYYYYYY???? STOP IT! NOW!

The supporting cast is wasted. Michelle Williams is adorable, as always. But her role is a relatively thankless one, repeating beats from the first film in a character that gives her little if any chance to truly shine. Stephen Graham is excellent in everything he does. Except this. Seriously, I hope he took a massive payday home from his work, because it is largely substandard and underwritten. And both his and indeed Tom Hardy’s American accents are all over the shop.

WHAT STATE ARE THESE GUYS SUPPOSED TO BE FROM?? It is unclear, at best. Just keep them Briddddish if in doubt. Maintaining one’s own voice need not be a liability and can even be an ass(h)et. Just ask Sean Connery and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or: just hire a more exacting dialogue coach? I know a gal in Texas called Jennifer. She is the BEST! I’ll give you her details. Seriously. Acting #101. Do not do an accent if it aint pitch perfect, yeah? Getting it wrong simply grates a viewer out of the picture.

All that said? I do not and indeed, cannot ‘hate’ this movie. It has its moments and those alone redeem the viewing. There is also the promise, via mid credits sting tease, of a possible expansion in the cinematic universe and yes, that is undeniably alluring to my inner 14 year old geek, same way the whiff of 1990s nostalgia pervades this and its preceding film. You lose nothing by watching it. But even the most ardent devotee of comic book sub-genre misses absolutely nothing by simply..missing..VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. 

C+: Passable but pointless. Must try harder. Tom Hardy remains watchable though and does provide some laughs here.

 



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