Quick synopsis: Venom/Eddie Brock have to deal with Cletus Cassidy, a serial killer who develops his own symbiote after biting Eddie and drinking his blood in this not-MCU film directed by Andy Serkis.
There are a lot of things that give me bad feelings about films. Sometimes it’s the trailer making me feel they’ve got the tone all wrong (How To Deter A Robber), sometimes it’s the casting notice making it clear they had no idea what the character was (Artemis Fowl, describing him as warm-hearted), but this is the first time that the length of a film made me feel uneasy. 97 Minutes. Now I don’t know if any of you have read the series this is based on (Maximum Carnage), but it’s LOOOOOOOOOONG. It’s longer than Civil War and Infinity War. Condensing all of that into 97 minutes is not easy. Their was a game based on the series released on the SNES back in the day, that’s longer than this film. Considering that Carnage wasn’t really introduced in the first film, we saw a brief glimpse of him but no details.
The short run-time means we don’t really get a glimpse into the character, but also weirdly we’re given too much. They’ve tried to give him a sympathetic edge, showing that he’s doing it for love or some shit. Just…….just let evil people be evil. Not everybody needs good intentions. They need believable intentions yes, and they need to make sense, but stop trying to insinuate that under every mass murderer is just a frustrated person who needs a hug.
Also, a weird thing to say considering how I talk about how the film is too short, but there’s a lot of wasted time here, especially at the start. The subplot of Venom and Eddie Brock splitting feels like it could be a film on it’s own (I mean, Separation Anxiety was a thing in the comics, right?). Here it resolves itself incredibly quickly. Do we at least get a good glimpse into Carnage the serial killer? Nope. It’s really strange actually. The film pretends there’s some deep personal relationship between Cletus and Eddie. Cletus specifically asks for Eddie to interview him. Doesn’t really explain why he’s so obsessed with him when he doesn’t know he’s Venom. It would have been SUCH a simple fix too. Just have a moment where he witnesses Eddie/Venom so knows the truth. Instead, no he’s shocked, and he bites Eddie just for the taste of it (diet coke). Honestly I don’t think this should have had Carnage it. This should have been about Venom and Eddie trying to co-exist whilst trying to catch someone else, and have him and Cletus have a Hannibal/Clarice style relationship for this film. Talk about how Cletus is a sociopath, but connected (maybe the home for troubled youths is the same one that another villain went to) so useful. Use this to build up the relationship between the two, then when the next film comes out you have Cletus become Carnage. That way when it happens you think “oh no, this sociopathic killer is now even MORE dangerous”. We have no idea what he was like as a killer because we don’t see him as that, we don’t know how dangerous he is really.
Although for that to happen, the rating would have to change. Venom is a brutal character, that’s never put across in these films due to the rating. I’ve heard people say “the one f-word the rating allows it is the greatest I’ve seen in years”, which is bullshit. I’m not saying a film like this needs every other word to be a swear word, but it should have a rating that would allow it to. The violence should make it an 18-rated film. Every time this film goes close to being violent, it cuts away. Characters die bloodlessly or off camera and it’s just not satisfying to watch at all.
On the plus side, the performances are all great and it’s directed beautifully (although it does seem a bit like Serkis is aiming for shots which will look good on a poster). And the post-credits scene could be a genuine game changer. So maybe see it, but you don’t need to rush out.