- Release Date: 15/10/2021
- Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Harris
- Director: Andy Serkis
Anuradha Cineplex has been synonymous with dreams, romances, heroism, and escapisms. It has given me and uncountable others respite from the mundane and harsh realities of the world and it still stands tall. The theater has been an inseparable part of my existence. The very moment I step into its premises, I am reminded of moments and memories that I would cherish evermore with every passing day of my life. The theater is back in a new avatar.
Gone are the “Popular” and “Balcony” classes and in comes the segmented seating arrangement made popular by Multiplexes. Anuradha was always plush enough for its time but it is even swankier now and sports a fresh new coat of paint that is a mix of subtle white, green, and yellow. The seats are pristine even though they continue to be of the same quality as they were when Anuradha was a traditional single-screen theater. The “Box” is still there even though the theater has its own set of high-priced recliners. The sound is a crisp 7.1 Dolby digital mix but the projection quality has lost a little of its much-revered sharpness. Maybe it is due to the age of the lamps or might just be an adjustment issue. Be what may, I was just glad to be seating at Anuradha Cineplex after so long and felt happy that atleast one theater from my childhood didn’t bite the dust with time, covid-19 and people’s changing perception of what a true cinema experience was.
While I was perennially drunk of the flurry of memories that stepping into Anuradha Cineplex brought back, Andy Serkis’ Venom: Let There Be Carnage was playing in the background doing everything in its capacity to spoil the perfect moment with its ludicrous storytelling, mind-numbing & ear-splitting noises that I learned later were action sequences and copious amounts of insufferable interpersonal drama and romance that had more cringe to drown an entire generation of TikTokers. While I disliked the first film of the series, I never expected this installment to be as bad as it turned out to be. Most of the issues that I had with its predecessors remained in this film and they were sadly cranked up to an astronomical level to decisively discourage me from ever stepping into another Venom film.
The story of Venom: Let there be Carnage revolves around a serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) who asks for an audience with Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) while in prison. He asks Eddie to print a particular cryptic statement in return for locations of where Cletus had disposed of the dead bodies of his victim. Eddie who is laced with Venom takes a look at his cell and comes up with enough information to locate the bodies himself. The courts overturn Cletus’ sentence and give him a death sentence. Cletus asks for Eddie to be present during his execution, seizes an opportunity, and bites a piece out of him. Cletus now has an amount of the symbiote that gives Eddie his powers but his version of it turns out to be red. He soon breaks out of prison and goes in search of the girl that he loved all his life and wants to get married to.
The girl is Frances Barrison (Naomi Harris), who has a superpower of her own. She can shriek loud enough to destroy buildings. She was shot in the head by a police officer that she wants to kill. Cletus wants to kill Eddie for obvious reasons and the red symbiote inside Cletus now known as Carnage wants to kill the black symbiote inside Eddie (known as venom – if you are new to this series). Thus the violent three are after Eddie who must not only find a way to stop Carnage and Cletus but also save the girl he loves but who is getting married to someone else.
The only thing that I liked about Venom: Let There be Carnage was the banter between Venom and Eddie. Some of the dialogues landed well and resembled how two close but different friends would quarrel if they were forced to put up with each other in the same living space. In this case, the matter is more complicated as that living space happens to be Eddie’s body. Thus the fun and the outlandish nature of the verbal tussles are cranked up a couple of notches. I loved the portion where Eddie meets his girlfriend and she tells him that she was getting married and Venom is unable to accept his host’s defeat and keeps putting words in Eddie’s head violently that spill over as he tries to form his own sentences. However, that fun and frolic don’t last long.
It takes a special ability to render someone as charismatic as Woody Harrelson boring in a character. Here is an actor who could just sit and mouth lines and still be entertaining but as Kasady, he is turned into such a bland, boring and one-dimensional antagonist that it feels as if he was better off not playing the character. His ridiculous wig, his inability to make his actions and over-the-top mannerisms feel organic and the exceptionally poor and repetitive writing of the character ensures that even someone as good as Woody Harrelson cannot make much of the character. It must be noted that he feels like someone who is practically sleepwalking through his performance and even in doing that he looks and feels irritated.
I had some serious issues with the action and CGI of the first Venom film and the same remains true for this part as well. Almost every action sequence is filmed at night to ensure that we do not notice the rough edges in the CGI. That ploy might have worked had the action sequences not been filmed in such a murky and hyper-edited manner that no one was able to grasp a shred of what was unfolding on screen. Action at night can be filmed in ways that can make them special and immerse the viewer in the art and the finesses of it. Sadly that is not the case here. The two versions of the same symbiote are shown going up against one another in the climactic action sequence. They are red and black but even that doesn’t make it any better for the viewers to understand and enjoy what was unfolding on the screen. However, you do get all the explosions and the ear-splitting shrieks and noises in the most unadulterated version. I failed to notice even a background score with all the noises that were coming my way.
For a film like this, it had to offer something new and unique to make a semblance of an impact. Why do we watch films if not to be surprised and awed and even swept off our feet? This film felt like an assemblage of moments, story elements, action, characters, and comedy that has been collected from what was left out of other similar and better-made films. This feeling kept popping up throughout my viewing of the film as I could practically draw a parallel between sequences in this film with similar sequences that were done better in the past in other films. Thus my boredom quickly turned into frustration as the film progressed. Thankfully it is only 97 minutes long and that includes the cast and credit. Oh! And before I forget there was also an end credit sequence that tied the character of Venom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I never say things like this at the end of my reviews as I believe audiences should make their own choices of whether or not to watch a film but I will say this today…” don’t waste your time and energy on this mindless mess”. Give Venom: Let There Be Carnage a miss.