‘Venom,’ let there be quality?

Can two minutes really save a movie?

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Collegian File Photo

By AJ Houk, Collegian Contributor

After “Venom” received an abysmal 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, strong audience ratings have prompted Sony to release a sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”

On the surface, this movie is nothing special. The first two acts are slightly distorted from the first film and the quality of the movie suffers from its PG-13 rating. Without the freedom to have as much gore as possible, the writers fall back on low-hanging jokes to drive the plot forward.

Venom is a childish foil to Hardy’s character, Eddie Brock, consistently driving the plot forward through antics that get old fast. Even the main villain is created because Venom can’t control his emotions for more than 30 seconds. This childishness ruins the movie’s more emotional moments. When the woman Eddie loves, Anne Weying, tells him she is engaged, Venom can’t help but make jokes about the situation. Regardless, he is still a likeable character who can be relatable at times. His jokes stem from his insecurity and search for validation, something we all struggle with from time to time.

The duo’s relationship is eventually disbanded for a short while after a fight they had. The conflict started after Eddie had enough of Venom taking away his life as a normal man. Venom takes one of Eddie’s insults, “you couldn’t even clean toilets,” way too close to the heart. He mentions it to Anne when she tries to convince him to reunite with Eddie to stop Carnage and Shriek.

After talking with Venom for less than a minute, Anne decides there is no way to convince him, so she starts talking him up. She convinces Venom that he is “the hero” of the duo, which works and soon reunites the group. Venom is an outcast on his own planet. He constantly seeks validation and Anne’s approach perfectly accomplishes that.

The final act is delayed by Venom demanding an apology from Eddie for what he said earlier. As Eddie tries his best to apologize, something very uncharacteristic of him, Venom again ruins the moment by being sarcastic and making jokes.

To the movie’s credit, it does a really good job of showing the importance of a symbiotic relationship between symbiote and man. Carnage and Cletus are not one with each other, so it is impossible for them to use their power fully. Eddie and Venom, on the other hand, benefit from one other making them a more powerful duo.

The plot of the movie feels like it’s having an identity crisis. At some points it’s an “odd couple” situation between Venom and Eddie. Other times it’s a turn-your-brain-off action movie and even an SCP-style horror game. The main catalyst for Cletus’ anger towards Eddie is an unflattering article written about him.

When Carnage or Red Venom come into existence, the screen writers assume you’ve read the comics and understand his character. The movie puts no effort into explaining his powers, like why a red symbiote is stronger than a black symbiote, or why Carnage has so much hostility with Venom. The lack of explanation makes Carnage come across as a bad guy and not an actual fleshed out character with emotions and reasons behind his actions.

From an acting standpoint, the movie suffers. Hardy’s performance is nowhere near an “Inception” or “Dark Knight Rises” level of acting. Much of the dialogue seems forced at points and lacks emotional depth. Woody Harrelson makes a conscious effort to bring Cletus’ pain to life. He falls short of achieving the depth I’d like because of the writing, not his acting. In fact, every performance is brought down by the lack of detail in the final script. The execution does nothing to compensate for the poor writing quality.

Where this movie truly shines is within its two-minute after credit scene. The implications the scene has for not only the future of superhero movies, but also Disney and Sony’s partnership, are impossible to put into words. Marvel fans must see this movie, even if you didn’t like the first.

This movie has its flaws, there’s no denying it. It suffers most from the PG-13 rating and rushed 97-minute run time. The story has a heavy reliance on comedy as a plot device that drains the viewer. Despite these flaws, it is not an irredeemable movie. It’s easy to see this movie exists only for its end credit scene, which very much serves its purpose.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is nothing special, but it’s nothing short of an action movie. If you like Marvel or superheroes in any way, I highly recommend you see it. Overall, I give it a 6/10.

AJ Houk can be reached at [email protected].