Movie Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

There were only three things I liked about this movie. First, it featured a cool, red ‘66 Mustang convertible (and I’m just praying that no classic cars were harmed in the filming of this). Second, Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu) who runs the convenience store (convenient for buying chocolate or eating the brains of burglars). She steals every scene she’s in. Third, the fact that this garbage is only an hour and a half. If I had to sit through another minute of this horrible film, I might want to eat the brain of the screenwriter (although I’m guessing it would be a rather small meal).

So, we all agreed the first Venom was awful. There was no debate about that. So how can they make a sequel -- with a title that sounds like an AC/DC album -- and make it even worse? They tried to make it this wacky, buddy comedy, with a creature bickering with the human host he lives inside. They’re jokes that might not have even worked in a ‘50s sitcom. They also got repetitive. I mean, how many times do we need to hear Tom Hardy say “Try not to eat anyone’s head today” or the alien tell him, in an Oscar the Grouch voice, “You’re nothing but a loser.”

A few years ago during a review of the latest Star Wars movie (Solo), I asked if Hollywood could stop casting Woody Harrelson in so many films. It takes me out of the fictional story. The use of him here, as serial killer Cletus Kasady, is a perfect example. With his crazy facial expressions and southern drawl...I was thinking of Zombieland and how he was doing his Natural Born Killers character on speed and Monster energy drinks. Oh, and speaking of monster, he becomes a monster because, for reasons that make no sense, he contacts reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy). They get into a scuffle, and Cletus bites Brock’s arm, and gets some of his blood. That now turns him into a creature with even more powers than the original Venom. I brought the engineer I play racquetball with to the screening (my wife was smart enough to decline going), he asked me why this makes his creature so much stronger. He also asked me 3 or 4 other questions about inconsistencies. I asked him why the creature got a huge hole in his chest during a fight scene, but that didn’t kill him or his human host. The conversation made me realize...the filmmakers didn’t care much about these types of questions. They just figured the Marvel fanboys would marvel at watching alien creatures fight and wouldn’t care about any of the “science” behind it all.

Former Solana Beach resident and Oscar winner Michelle Williams shows up to...well, do that trope that is only done on screen: Tell her former lover she’s now engaged,’s the ring the new, better man gave me. In real life, does this happen? 

And the other thing about that only happens in movies is -- that new guy the woman is engaged to is always a schlub, and we know it’s only a matter of time before he’s alien fodder. 

Cletus steals a red Mustang, and doesn’t look nearly as cool as Max Cady did with his in CapeFear. He wants to go break his old flame (Naomie Harris) out of the institution she’s in. She has an X-men type of power where she can scream so loud, it blows the windows out of buildings and the doors off police cars. Oh, and you thought Venom and Brock bickered a lot, get this. These aliens are very sensitive to noise, so...her screaming isn’t going to sit well with this new and improved venom creature. But, once she’s free, they do their Bonnie and Clyde thing. 

Hardy’s co-star from Taboo -- Stephen Graham -- plays that other type of character we only see in movies. He’s the investigating detective who barks orders at everyone and yells cliches like “You know something you’re not telling me!! Why is it every time you show up somewhere, bodies pile up?!” (he didn’t say that, but you get the point)

Andy Serkis, who went from playing these types of characters on screen, is behind the camera. He and the CGI have let us down.

I’ll give it an extra half a star for using the great Black Keys song “Howlin’ For You” but just as I liked the red Mustang better when De Niro drove it in Cape Fear, I liked this song better 10 years ago in Limitless (also with De Niro).

1 ½ stars out of 5.

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