2018’s Venom was one of those pleasant box office surprises, to the tune of $822 million worldwide. In a year that saw releases ranging from Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, and Antman, to name a few, the superhero dinner table was a plentiful feast. Yet, Venom found a sweet spot with its rated R brand of slapstick humor and comedic violence. Tom Hardy took the symbiotic relationship between a hungry alien and his less-than-sure human companion and made it enjoyable. A lot of its quirky nature is increased in volume with its sequel, Let There Be Carnage. The expectation for superhero sequels is to go bigger. Thus, they add some elements that could either make or break why audiences loved it at its inception. If Hardy was in tune with the Eddie Brock character in the first movie, he’s even more dialed in now. Making

As we visit the odd-couple twosome, they are on the outs. Venom has a persistent urge to be a hero, devouring bad guys along the way to quell his hunger. Eddie Brock has lost everything, from his journalism career to his former fiancée, Anne (Michelle Williams). He wants Venom to act as normal as possible – pacifying him with chickens and chocolate. Determined to revive his flatlined career, he profiles soon-to-be executed serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). Kasady finds him and Brock’s fates interlinked, and this would presume to be confirmed with a heated exchange. Through a bite, Kasady gains a red symbiote of his own by the name of Carnage.

Director Andy Serkis conjoins many themes and motifs seen in other buddy pairing films and tailors them to the characters of this universe. Let There Be Carnage brings the hilarious interactions of Brock and Venom back. Still, the story fortified by Hardy, and Kelly Marcel deals with relationships, acceptance, revenge, and potential. The differences between Brock and Venom eventually drive them apart, bringing on the dark night of the soul for both of them. Like opposites attract pairing, Riggs and Murtagh in Lethal Weapon – they level each other out. Eddie Brock is the buffer between Venom becoming more Carnage-like. Venom unlocks the bravery within his human host. (It’s hard not to when virtually Venom can heal any injury).

With every villain, there’s an origin story – where Kasady’s exposition is told through animation. It ropes in a new character named Frances Barrison / Shriek (Naomi Harris), who has powers of sonic voice. Kasady and Barrison come from damaged backgrounds, where they found safety in one another. Because Shriek’s powers are almost kryptonite to Carnage, it brings about an interesting dynamic of how all three can coexist. Remember, human hosts and their symbiote have different agendas. This plays heavily into the third act of the film. Harrison’s approach to playing the serial killer is on par with his comic counterpart. He often speaks in flighty metaphors and has a menacing demeanor that reverberates from a tortured person.

Mulligan (Stephen Graham), a hard-nosed detective, serves as that quintessential character that has to get to the bottom of all the murders occurring. He also has a storyline that connects him to the past of the villains. Michelle Williams’ return as Anne is good continuity-wise from the first Venom movie. She gets involved in some action sequences, but it feels as though her character is here for closure. She is newly engaged to her new beau Dan (Reid Scott), and is another instance where Eddie has screwed things up. Even with heartbreak, you always have friends around to help.

There was some trepidation with Venom and its PG-13 rating, but Let There Be Carnage makes the most of it. While it doesn’t go over the line, it taunts it and even peers over it – sporting some violent kills by Carnage. A contract of symbiote because of Eddie’s tempered pact with Venom. This decision not only enhances the Cassidy/Carnage team’s threat, but makes it worth it when Venom is finally unleashed. The runtime that clocks in a little over an hour and a half makes sure things hit the ground running at a breezy pace. The action sequences, especially with the big fights, are dynamic in scale. Serkis makes you feel how imposing and dangerous Carnage can be through special effects – especially with a showdown that happens in a church that’s under construction.

If you loved Hardy’s self-dialogue from the first film and a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you’d enjoy Let There Be Carnage. Finding friendship through each other’s differences is not something new to film, but placed in the Venom universe, it’s something enjoyable. There are enough Easter eggs aplenty to hint that a bigger universe is somewhere out there. Those that are looking for a quick, amusing, familiar superhero movie – this is here to appease your senses and the inner/outer outcast inside.

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures