I did not like the first Venom movie, it had too much black-on-silver blur fighting. I had very low expectations for the sequel and did not go see it in theaters. I did listen to the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour review and became intrigued.
I dropped one class in college, Stardom, it was a film class, and watching two films back-to-back each Monday in addition to a normal engineering course load was not going to happen. The instructor seemed to exclusively focus on the ‘queer reading’ of every film we watched. I felt like it was more than a stretch on some films. All of this is to set up how much Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a queer love story.
Eddie Brock, Tom Hardy, is living symbiotically with Venom. He has more control over when Venom emerges and has limited what Venom can do and eat significantly. This leads to a growing resentment compounded by the breakup in the previous film between Eddie and his fiancé Anne, Michelle Williams. If you go into this film thinking about Eddie and Venom being in a romantic relationship with each other this movie gets a lot more interesting, enjoyable, and funny. Suddenly, the little quips are flirting when you use this lens. The humor improves when you view it as between these two lovers and the film turns into a comedy like Thor Ragnorok.
Woody Harrelson returns as serial killer Cletus Kasady and Naomie Harris join the cast as Frances Barrison, Cletus’ love interest from an orphanage. They drive the main plot line as Harrelson becomes Carnage and frees Frances, who is Shriek. Cletus, Frances, and Carnage have a similar love triangle but are much more juvenile as their development had been stunted.
The fight scenes in this film are significantly better than in the first Venom film. There are fewer blur-on-blur scenes, and it is easier to follow who is fighting. Eddie and Cletus both fight simultaneously with Carnage and Venom so there is some real combat and not just CGI. It felt more thought out and controlled this time around.
Superhero movies continue to bring in audiences but may not be for everyone. Let There Be Carnage is an exception to the normal superhero movie. It has significant character development and a unique storyline within the genre. I feel like it has more mass appeal. The first film is not necessary homework as long as you understand the basics about why Venom and Eddie must exist the way they do. I enjoyed this film far more than I expected to and I think most people will too if they go in with the right framing from the beginning.