By Laurie Coker

Rating: C

Campiness in a movie can be a great deal of fun, but overdone humor can wear thin pretty quickly. ‘Venom: Let There be Carnage’ spins with special effects and classy CGI, but falls short on story substance and dialogue. Director Andy Serkis delivers an impressive amount of “carnage,” and Tom Hardy is fun to watch, but as a co-writer with Kelly Marcel, Hardy fails to deliver. The pair relies too much on silly dialogue and not enough on the inner relationships of the characters and their parasitical counterparts.

Eddy Brock (Hardy) returns in his third turn with Venom who is (semi) in control of Brock’s life. Brock seems to have hit rock bottom – having lost his girl Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) and messed up his reporting job. Wanting to get his life together, he takes an opportunity to interview a particularly nasty serial killer named Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), whose girlfriend, Shriek, is also in prison.  Ironically, Brock manages to make Kasady’s life worse – pushing up his execution date. When he and Venom visit him before his execution, Kasady bites Brock’s hand and part of Venom’s alien symbiote morphs in Kasady. And then there is Carnage.

Serkis’ direction is spot on and the battle sequences impress. The creatures look amazing. To be fair, there are some funny moments in the messy dialogue and forced comedy, but it borders on juvenile, inappropriate since the subject matter and violence don’t support young viewers. The banter between Venom and Brock causes a great deal of eye-rolling and sighs. It feels like forced humor – making the film feel as choppy as the editing. Their relationship feels like an exaggerated version of a conflicted marriage. They challenge each other constantly and it could have been hilarious had it not felt foolish and silly most of the time.

Unfortunately, the incredible imagery cannot save ‘Venom: Let There be Carnage’ from a spineless story and ditzy, unimaginative dialogue. Another issue that bogs the film is its short 1 hour 33-minute runtime, limiting story development and garnering sloppy editing. I am placing a C in my grade book. I like watching Hardy and can see what could have been.

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