After a disappointing first work, the license returns and promises to be renewed under Andy Serkis‘ camera. Is this second film a massacre?
The studio, which owns the rights to adapt several comics from the idea house, decided to tackle the most famous of them. Hence Spider-Man made his third foray on the big screen, a little over three years after The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield.
This time, the studio teamed up with Marvel to bring Spider-Man to the MCU and thereby secure a certain audience in theaters. With over $880 million in revenue, the success was there and Sony tried to reproduce that feat a year later with Venom, its lesser-known little spider cousin. Again, the numbers are pretty good, with no less than $856 million at the box office. However, the film did not attract critics.
In a universe of stuttering cinematography, and with a desire to force itself into the same niche as Deadpool and Suicide Squad, the film is unconvincing; the machinations of insipidity and the laziness of the director. But how did the disreputable relationship of a declining genre manage to reinvent itself?
As Venom gets closer to meeting Spider-Man, which Andy Serkis announced in a hushed tone, this new feature grabs the attention of fans of the genre’s productions. Announced as a rebirth, in front of Serkis’ cameras, will Let There Be Carnage manage to break free from its predecessors and win against the Disney giants? Spoiler alert: a film never lives up to its name.
We find Eddy Brock, a loser among losers, who has to deal with Venom’s invasive personality. Bordered but never cruel, the symbiote now wants to use his powers wisely and play as a masked vigilante for San Francisco. But Eddy, broke as wheat, didn’t really think so. However, when a serial killer asked to see him a few days before his execution, the former journalist had no choice but to step in.
The first film has yet to shine with its plot singularity. Formatted and flawed, the narrative tells an origin story unlike anything we’ve seen before, with no real interest and with a tendency to inconsistency. Add to that the poverty of characters, blank dialogue and cartoons, and you have a movie that leaves you unmoved. 3 years later, we can hope that the screenwriters will learn from this failure, sadly not so.
The film takes a major flaw from its predecessor and adds a significant dose of deceptively subversive scenes. Despite all its good intentions, the film doesn’t manage to break free from the calibrated format of this kind of production. Between script shortcuts, incomprehensible accumulation of sequences, and rhythm problems, Let There Be Carnage seems to have spawned pain. It’s epilepsy, frankly exhausting and although of short duration, sometimes long.
Apart from a few flashes of light, especially when he borrows horror codes to contextualize his characters, it’s clear that the filmmakers didn’t work wonders. Nothing really inspired, and Serkis seems to have gone on autopilot. From ambiance to framing, to light management, Venom: Let there be Carnage isn’t a feast for the retina, though it isn’t a disaster either. Head on the handlebars, he delivers rough and not very effective action scenes.
For special effects, it’s far from good, especially on the second side of the symbiote. Following the monstrous silver creature from the first film, Carnage is a crimson pile of dirt, with razor-sharp teeth but a blunt design character. The same goes for the sequences in the city, as impersonal as the stories the movies tell. While Spider-Man has New York City as his playground, San Francisco isn’t exactly exploited in this new film. Even the former was better, using the hilly streets of the American city for his pursuit.
The only real improvement is on the violent side, which invites him into a frame where he remained off-screen in the previous feature film. Serkis doesn’t skimp on blood and passion, but remains silent and always on the nail of the genre. It doesn’t deviate from its line of conduct: adult films of course, but almost all audiences. Where Fox and Deadpool have made an R-Rated bet, to pay tribute to Wade Wilson’s character, Sony mchoose greenbacks.
Finally, it should be noted that despite the excellent filmography, Tom Hardy seems to have lost its splendor. Never totally hilarious, but sometimes embarrassing, actors do their best to navigate this sea of lines, each more ubiquitous than the next. With his punchline worthy of a ’90s action movie (which is bad), the character doesn’t manage to convince us under the aura of a schizophrenic loser. The same goes for Woody Harrelson, the protagonist of a teaspoon-deep cartoon. Even worse, at the last minute, the screenplay tries to offer it redemption to the audience, via a hat-picked retort about its origins. A failed turnaround that ends up burying the film’s dramatic scope.