By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Following the events of the first movie, journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) continues to struggle living with his symbiotic extraterrestrial Venom, whose nature is much more violent and predatory than he wants to be. Loosely based on the Marvel Comics story arc, Maximum Carnage, this new installment in Sony’s franchise matches Brock and Venom against the psychopathic killer Cletus Kasady who, in the movie, acquires a symbiote of his own–the hyperviolent and more destructive creature known as Carnage. While the film offers a rather amusing and entertaining dark comedy, the filmmakers struggle with pairing Brock and Venom’s personal struggles with the murderous and vindictive whims of their antagonists.

In attempting to make a film that is highly entertaining and humorous, writers Kelly Marcel, Tom Hardy and director Andy Serkis deliver a movie that mostly succeeds when it comes to the humor, but fails when it comes to the developement of its villains and their intended impact on the story. The result is a completely uneven and tonally confused movie that often comes across as rushed and incomplete. This should frustrate and infuriate comic fans of the Maximum Carnage story arc. The bulk of this very short movie is spent on the problematic relationship between Brock and Venom that Kasady/Carnage aspect of it gets absolutely slighted and disserviced.

While I did enjoy the humor and laughed often, I kept wanting more from the villains in the story and was disappointed that their roles where treated so badly. The casting of Woody Harrelson as Kasady is definitely an inspired one, considering that he is so good at portraying off-kilter characters, but the poor writing and development of his character never allows him to truly shine. This is same problem with Kasady’s love interest and partner-in-crime Frances Barrison/Shriek who also comes across as frustrating caricature that does little to enrich the film.

Tom Hardy is the only actor who gets to have fun and really show some range. And I do appreciate that much effort has been put into his character and his relationship with Venom. I simply feel that the filmmakers had the room to do much more with the story and could have made a more meaty movie with plenty of material from the comics from which they could have drawn. At the end of the day, I still had fun with this movie, but can still acknowledge that the overall product is a failure to fully realize what could have been a much better and more satisfying film.

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