Movies

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Might Be the Worst Movie of the Year

It's a crude, ugly derivative of a crude, ugly film.

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Asked for his definition of a great movie, director Howard Hawks supposedly responded: "three good scenes and no bad ones." Somehow, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the precise opposite—a handful of truly godawful scenes, and no good ones. The movie is an ugly, unpleasant, nearly unwatchable mess, and the only movie I have actively regretted seeing in a theater this year. 

In that, at least, it follows through on the promise of its predecessor, the 2018 Spider-Man-adjacent comic book film Venom. Based on a fan-favorite Spidey antagonist, who also appeared in Sam Raimi's unfortunate Spider-Man 3, Venom was a disaster on nearly every level. The character, who in the comics typically plays either a villain or an odd bedfellow-frenemy role, felt lost without the friendly neighborhood web-slinger around. Tom Hardy's antic performance as the title character veered between cringe and camp, turning the gator-mouthed alien symbiote into a clownish rendition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The whole production was pointlessly dark and brooding, and the highlights, or at least the parts that weren't quite as bad, consisted of intendedly comic slap fights between Hardy and a toothy glob of talking computer-generated black and white goop. LOL, sure. 

Clunky scripts and incoherent stories are of course commonplace in Hollywood. But the underlying craftwork tends to be reasonably competent, if not always thrilling, especially at higher budget levels. Yet rarely have I seen a film as tedious, turgid, unpleasant, ill-conceived, and downright horrid looking. Even with a budget reportedly somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million, the movie simply looked like garbage—expensive, elaborate, computer-generated garbage, perhaps—but garbage nonetheless.

Naturally, the studio made another one. And somehow it's even worse.

The slap fights and comic hijinks have returned in louder, more obnoxious form. Indeed, Venom is even more of a comic-relief character than ever, though it's hard to call anything in this film funny. He spends the middle of the film at some sort of costume party rave, where no one notices that he is an eight-foot-tall computer-animated monster. "Cool costume!" is all anyone will say, as if globular animated tentacles are a perfectly ordinary part of everyday cosplay. The movie's attempts to make him sympathetic are bizarre at best: He wants to eat brains and feel personally validated by a bunch of kids dressed in wearable glow sticks. Who can't relate?

The new villain, Carnage, is a sort of son-of-Venom character—another alien symbiote, this one bonded with a murderous serial killer by the name of Cletus Kasady (a smirking, inessential Woody Harrelson). Carnage has many of the same goopy, gloopy abilities as Venom, except that he's bigger, red, and looks even shoddier when rendered on screen than his progenitor. He changes size from shot to shot, never looks like he's actually interacting with his surroundings, and moves with the herky-jerky digitized weightlessness of a Playstation 2 cut scene.

Yes, Let There Be Carnage looks even worse than the original. With a budget of about $110 million, it doesn't look cheap, exactly, just crappy. It's not just that the effects work is of such low quality, either. It's that every shot, every cut, every image in the movie has been constructed with a brutal and almost overwhelming thoughtlessness.

There is, however, something fitting about all of this. The character of Venom sprung up in the 1980s, during the runup to the comic book boom of the early 1990s. For a period of time, Spider-Man wore a black suit, which turned out to be an alien symbiote that wanted to bond; when Spidey rejected the bond, the suit turned to a new host, Eddie Brock, a newspaper-world rival of Spider-Man's plainclothes alter-ego, Peter Parker. Thus, Venom was a dark mirror of Spider-Man turned back on him; he viewed himself as good, but was driven to madness and villainy by his hatred of the Parker/Spider-Man pair.

Carnage, in turn, came about at the peak of the early 1990s comic-book boom. He was an even darker version of Venom, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He was just a murderous psychopath—bigger, louder, and meaner than Venom, created only after Marvel's bosses wouldn't let a writer proceed with plans to kill off Venom, who had become a high-selling fan favorite. So for reasons of corporate strategy, fans got a grosser, cruder version of the original, a kind of violent parody of a character who was already a violent parody of his heroic source character.

Let There Be Carnage is a rotten film from start to finish; it exists only because Spider-Man remains popular, and the first Venom was something of a hit, thus necessitating a sequel. In a movie landscape still in the throes of a superhero boom, there is something strangely appropriate about the sheer crudeness of this hackneyed sequel to a comic book spinoff given that it is based on a comic book character who was, at the time of his inception, an uglier, crasser derivative of an already ugly, crass derivative.

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  1. Suderman says it’s shit so it’s probably the best movie of the year.

    1. I’d never even seen the previous “disaster on nearly every level” film, so I checked Rotten Tomatoes. It has 30% from the corporate press and and 81% audience score, which is a sure sign that it’s worth watching.

      1. Ah yes, the Woken Tomatoes. I guarantee that whatever the ‘critics’ hate on that site, is a good movie.

      2. I went in expecting to hate it. It’s not high cinema, but it had it’s moments. It’s both more grim and dark than the DCCU while still being more fun and humorous. It was mindless and mostly entertaining, and the writers managed to string together a series of events that followed their contractual obligations, jibed with at least a chunk of the existing character mythos, and traversed from point to point without larger than usual plot holes and other failures.

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    2. That honestly was my first thought when I saw the review.

    3. If it’s got Woody Harrelson, it probably does suck.

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  2. It’s a crude, ugly derivative of a crude, ugly film. So in other words i’ll like this one as well

  3. Goliath is back on Amazon Prime.

    It’s surreal and dark.

    I don’t mean depressing dark. I mean, I double checked the settings on my TV dark, to see if I’d screwed them up somehow. It’s shot so dark, you can hardly see what’s going on.

    I’m not sure the surreal shit is adding anything.

    1. What is up with that? It trends now and again and when it’s done badly it ruins everything. Make it so the action is too loud and the dialog so quiet you can’t understand it and you can hit the magic duo of unwatchable trendy moviemaking.

      Noir and dark can be done and still allow the viewer to see things. See Blade Runner. I haven’t watched Goliath, but remember seeing the ad every time I looked at the Amazon prime video pate. Now I know what to expect.

      1. What astonishes me is that characters in 1930s-1950s movies managed to whisper and move about dark rooms, without having to turn the sound down to inaudible or the lighting off. Is this some sort of “realism” trend that’s forgotten there’s supposed to be an audience?

        1. You are right.

          In black and white, with pretty low quality (by today’s standards) audio technology, too.

        2. Apparently there was a real art to black and white cinematography, not just in Hollywood but even worldwide (like Akira Kurosawa’s samurai movies). Night scenes were actually mostly shot in daytime, but lit so perfectly they worked as dark and yet visible onscreen. You’d think after more than half a century of working almost exclusively in color, they’d have mastered how to pull off darkness, but no.

          As for sound recording, who can say why the old, analog movies seemed to rarely have any problem with inaudible dialog yet deafening sound effects. The weirdest part to me is that they seemed to have figured out the sound part immediately after the era of silent movies, only to forget how that’s done in the last couple of decades. I mean, I don’t recall it ever being a problem in 80s and 90s action movies.

        3. I wonder if part of it isn’t compression artifacts.

  4. If you wear underoos and invest in collectible action figures, this may be for you.

    1. That’s funny.

    2. I wish they made underoos with a big enough pouch for me to fit.

    3. Collectible action figures, i.e. nerd portfolios.

      1. The way things are going, the Nerds will not only be data overlords, but financial overlords.

  5. I saw the commercial on television, that was plenty.

  6. Y’all there’s some creepy ass horror movie involving sheep coming out soon. I can’t remember the name but I’ve seen it advertised on YouTube. It looks genuinely frightening.

    1. Knowing you from past comments, it’s probably an election with people who won’t vote like Democratic sheeple.

    2. I Know What Ewe Did Last Summer

      1. You can’t pull the wool over my eyes; the audience is going to get fleeced.

        1. Critics lambasted it in their reviews.

          1. Very subtle, but mutton gets past me.

    3. gay sheep coming out is not creepy you literal nazi!

      1. You can tell which ones are gay because where men are men, they aren’t nervous.

    4. You are trying to pull the wool over our eyes with that one.

      1. You half-stole my line.

    5. And “Night of the Lepus” is out on BluRay!

  7. I found one called “Black Sheep” from 2006 that looks pretty good.

    This new one is called “Lamb”. Watch it and tell me it doesn’t creep you out.

    1. Ain’t you got the chops for it?

    2. A horror flick called “Lamb?” Let me guess: silent movie?

    3. I can get with this, or I can get with that…

  8. Worst movie of the year? Not likely — Suicide Squad came out this year.

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  9. The original Venom was highly enjoyable. So, if you’re saying “it’s as bad as the original”, it’s probably pretty good.

  10. This struck me–

    “He spends the middle of the film at some sort of costume party rave, where no one notices that he is an eight-foot-tall computer-animated monster. “Cool costume!” is all anyone will say, as if globular animated tentacles are a perfectly ordinary part of everyday cosplay.”

    Clearly Suderman has no idea what cosplay looks like now. There are a few functional Doc Ocks out there. Al least one Iron Man suit that can actually fly. And tentacles are everywhere.

    The intellectualists don’t like it–that means it’ll be great for people who actually HAVE intelligence and wasted on those who only worship intelligence.

  11. I have a feeling Suderman was bullied by comic book nerds early on and never recovered…

    And after hearing how much he disliked it, I have a new movie to go watch.

    1. I doubt any real comic book nerd ever actually bullied anyone. It’s not in their nature. It’s more likely that a young Suderman once bullied some comic book nerds, they got fed up with it and successfully defended themselves, and Suderman has hated comic books ever since he got his ass deservedly kicked by them.

      1. Yeah, I wouldn’t call babbling on and boring the living crap out of you with useless nonsense “bullying.”

  12. “Let There Be Carnage is a rotten film from start to finish…”

    Awesome, I’m in.

  13. Hint: if you feel the need to have a movie review for a sequel, you should pick someone who didn’t hate the original

    It’s a corollary of the general rule that a reviewer should be addressing the concerns and viewpoint of the audience, not whatever stupid ax they have to grind personally, like when a wokerati spends 80% of the words in a review on racial representation in casting.

    The first Venom was ok. Not great, but holds the audience’s interest. I’m extremely confident they sought to do more of the same with the sequel, which is a pretty open and notorious cash in by all parties involved.

  14. Marvel is churning out turd after turd. I will watch this when it’s free on Netflix or Prime just for Carnage nostalgia.

  15. Peter Suderman is a moron and wouldn’t follow his recommendation to wear jacket when it’s cold outside. Venom and Deadpool are the only decent movies from Marvel in nearly a decade. Perhaps Venom didn’t have enough left-wing ideology written into it for Peter’s liking.

  16. How do you screw up two of the coolest, most high energy characters in Marvel?

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  19. It is still better than last year, that gave us the moronic The Invisible Man. (God, that film was hot filth.)

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  23. The first “Venom” was actually funny and different. This one goes off the rails in about 15 minutes. Eddie (Hardy) is going through life with his constant companion, the big-toothed monstrous creature, Venom, who lives inside his body and talks to him constantly. Everything Eddie does, Venom comments on. We hear the comments. They were funny in the first movie. In this, they’re tiresome. The movie meanders. It goes a long while without revealing its story. It eats up time with set pieces, involving Eddie and Venom in their domestic life. These set pieces are not amusing. They’re not clever. They’re desperate. The filmmakers have next to no story, and they need to fill up time. capstone project writing service

  24. The first “Venom” was actually funny and different. This one goes off the rails in about 15 minutes. Eddie (Hardy) is going through life with his constant companion, the big-toothed monstrous creature, Venom, who lives inside his body and talks to him constantly. Everything Eddie does, Venom comments on. We hear the comments. They were funny in the first movie. In this, they’re tiresome. The movie meanders. It goes a long while without revealing its story. It eats up time with set pieces, involving Eddie and Venom in their domestic life. These set pieces are not amusing. They’re not clever. They’re desperate. The filmmakers have next to no story, and they need to fill up time.

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