As film fans, there’s always a handful of films that we allow to pass us by. This usually isn’t at all indicative of their quality – sometimes, like with Venom: Let There Be Carnage, we’re just a little Late To The Party.

Making the character of Venom work in a world without a Spider-Man is no mean feat, but the original, Venom, was able to make the villain/anti-hero compelling and comedic enough to deliver a memorably entertaining film. The sequel, Let There Be Carnage, continues the story of Eddie Brock and his alien symbiote pal, Venom. The success of the first film naturally created high hopes for its successor.

Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock/Venom, and Michelle Williams reprises her supporting role as Eddie’s ex-girlfriend. Woody Harrelson appears as Cletus Kassady, a serial killer on death row who becomes the host of Venom’s accidental offspring, Carnage. Naomie Harris also appears as Frances Barrison (A.K.A. Shriek), Kassady’s love interest and a secondary villain.

Naturally, the plot pits Brock and Kassady (and therefore Venom and Carnage) against one another. With that comes the inevitable CGI slug-fest, but this is something that the first film handled well enough. However, with Hardy’s comedically-charged Eddie Brock returning alongside the brilliantly creepy potential of Harrelson, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a sequel that works well on paper. Unfortunately, the reality falls short.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Fails To Build On The Success Of The Original

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock holding a chicken and talking to Venom in Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

In a general sense, Venom 2 manages to recapture the tone and style of the original. The exchanges between Brock and Venom remain every bit as funny and well-written, and the nature of the symbiote-versus-symbiote showdown is a well-balanced concept. However, outside of the strengths it borrows from its predecessor, Let There Be Carnage feels distinctly hollow.

Most of its characters – particularly that of its two villains – feel rushed and insubstantial. They’re appropriately evil, and Harrelson in particular summons a specific style of crazy that works, but the stakes don’t feel particularly high. It all ends with a predictably impossible-to-visually-decipher CGI action set piece that’s as underwhelming as it is uninspired.

Though Let There Be Carnage doesn’t match the originality or entertainment value of its predecessor, it’s a passable entry into Sony’s budding Marvel franchise. Its story feels a little half-baked and generic at times, but it’s kept fun and light by the performances of Hardy and Harrelson.

Rating: 50%

Summary: Venom: Let There Be Carnage might not be particularly innovative or remarkable, but it’s still enjoyable superhero action fare.

Highlight: The “break-up” scene between Eddie and Venom is as bizarre as it is brilliant, with Hardy’s dual performance particularly worthy of note.