Eddie Brock is still struggling to coexist with the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Venom. When deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady also becomes host to an alien symbiote, Brock and Venom must put aside their differences to stop his reign of terror.

Editing: Maryann Brandon, Stan Salfas
Marco Beltrami

Cast:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Woody Harrelson

Director: Andy Serkis
Screenplay: Kelly Marcel
Story: Tom Hardy, Kelly Marcel
Based on: Marvel Comics
Cinematography: Robert Richardson

Venom was a surprise hit in 2018. Despite widespread negative reviews, the film which is based on the Spider-Man villain but makes no mention of Spider-Man, made over $856 million worldwide, set several October box office records and finished the year as the 7th highest-grossing film. Audiences were drawn to the alien-symbiote anti-hero and for those looking for more of the same from Venom: Let There Be Carnage, they will leave the cinema happy. Those who were hoping for more, not so much.

One year after the events of the previous film, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is again interviewing the serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who featured in the mid-credits scene Venom. Facing the death penalty, Cletus wants Eddie to get a cryptic message out to his long lost love, Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), and in return, Eddie will get his exclusive life story. Venom, however, figures out where Cletus has buried a number of his victims, insuring that Cletus gets the death penalty and Eddie’s career gets a major boost.

As Eddie tries to return his life to normalcy, he fights with Venom who wants to go out and be a hero. Meanwhile, Cletus obtains his own symbiote, breaks out of prison and sets his sights on finding Frances and getting revenge on Eddie Brock.

The question most will ask about this film is if it is better than the original? I would have to say yes, but not by much. Tonally it is much more consistent and assured of what it is. The movie moves along at a fast pace, not surprising given its 97 minute run time. You could describe the film as being a lot of fun, at least until the third act in which the film descends into a nonsensical series of CGI symbiote creatures fighting each other in the dark around a cathedral.

The strongest part of the film is the relationship between Venom and Eddie who have an Odd Couple relationship as they try to deal with sharing the same body. The comedy of Eddie having to deal with this voice in his head while he talks to his ex-fiancee Anne (Michelle Williams) or detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham) kept me interested while my favourite scene of the film sees Venom try to cheer Eddie up by cooking him breakfast, using his symbiote tentacles to do the cooking while Eddie mopes.

Cletus Kassady is an interesting character and Woody Harrelson makes him a compelling character to watch on screen but as soon as Carnage becomes involved, that all takes a back seat. The supporting cast is not given much to do, with Frances being a prisoner-turned-hindrance in the final confrontation and Anne a mediator between Eddie and Venom who becomes the classic damsel in distress.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is enough like the first film that fans are sure to find enjoyment in this entry but not enough of an improvement that it will change people’s minds about this franchise. The film is at its best when it is focused on the Symbromance and is far better when it’s a comedy than when it’s an action movie. With the Venom franchise almost certain to continue, we can only hope future iterations focus more on its strengths and not the symbiote-on-symbiote fights we’ve been subjected to.

Ashley Hobley attended an advance screening of Venom: Let There Be Carnage thanks to Sony Pictures Australia and Event Cinemas.