Movie Review: With humor, ‘Venom 2’ takes a look at relationships

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In “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” we meet Tom Hardy’s investigative reporter Eddie and his oily Venom symbiote in what director Andy Serkis has called their “odd couple” phase, bickering all day long. in their little apartment in San Francisco.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is best when it’s not trying to be a comic book movie.

This fact may not bode well for future spinoffs and integrations in the so-called “Spider-Verse”, but it feels like director Andy Serkis, screenwriter Kelly Marcel and star / producer Tom Hardy are aware of this weakness. And they made the smart choice to look into the bizarre relationship between Eddie Brock and his alien symbiote Venom.

There is nothing necessary about this sequel, which itself is an unsuccessful line of judgment for any movie, let alone the building blocks of the franchise. But it also seems to liberate “Venom 2” to become weirder and more irreverent than the first movie, when it seemed like no one could decide how seriously they took each other. Turns out “not very” was the correct answer.

Here, we meet Eddie and Venom in what Serkis has called their “odd couple” phase. Eddie is in full celibate mode because his ex, Anne (Michelle Williams), recently got engaged to Dan (Reid Scott, who is a perfectly playful and unperturbed punching bag).

Eddie and his symbiote live in his tiny San Francisco apartment in misery and bickering all day long and it’s really a lot of fun. Venom loves to give advice – relationship and otherwise. It’s like an inner monologue going on, just with an oily alien whose ideal meal is the human brain (don’t worry, Eddie instituted a chicken and chocolate-only rule). In a scene on “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” Venom decides the only way to cheer Eddie up is to make bacon for breakfast.

Unfortunately, because this is still an adjacent superhero movie, we can’t just watch Eddie spend his days sweaty and bothered by his chatty symbiote never giving him a moment of peace. There must be a villain and a threat and a ridiculous motivation as to why Eddie and Venom need to get involved.

That’s where Woody Harrelson comes in, as loving serial killer Cletus Kasady who wants Eddie (who apparently still works as an investigative reporter) to write his life story. Harrelson seems to be having fun as a psychopathic murderer who just wants to get back to his true love, played by an offensively underused Naomie Harris.

Later, Cletus will get his own symbiote and become the titular Carnage. And even though the film turns into a garish, absurd action (in Grace Cathedral of all places), it still retains enough awareness that Carnage sincerely shouts out the film’s title at a climatic moment.

It’s hard to overstate how much of this film’s relative success is due to Hardy and his performances as Eddie and Venom. Maybe the gadget is a little note, but it’s always fun to hear Venom use the same intonation, whether he says “Let me eat it” or “No!” My brain is frozen ”when Eddie says he’s going to have ice cream.

And Serkis was an inspired choice to take over the efforts of Ruben Fleischer. Who better than Golum to find the right things in a split-personality mo-cap / CG performance? It’s just a shame that it also takes the superhero hook to justify its weird existence.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” a Sony Pictures release in theaters Friday, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense footage of violence and disturbing material.” Duration: 97 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents are strongly cautioned. Some content may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr



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