The first reviews for Venom: Let There Be Carnage are in, and there’s a phrase that’s continually popping up amongst critics: love story. Those are probably words you’re not expecting for a movie that’s essentially about a giant alien symbiote fighting his blood red doppelganger, but judging by the reviews, director Andy Serkis let star Tom Hardy run wild with playing up the hilarious, co-dependent relationship between Venom and his human host Eddie Brock.
By all accounts, Woody Harrelson appears to be having a great time, also, playing the evil Carnage, but at the end of the day, the Venom sequel is earning rave reviews for the touching romance between Hardy and his black ooze alter-ego.
Here’s what critics are saying about Venom: Let There Be Carnage:
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
Think back on Spider-Man 3 and how Venom was used in that movie. He was just “a monster.” And Sam Raimi has been pretty clear over the years that he never wanted to use Venom in the first place. But these movies have kind of cracked the Venom code by making it a love story between Eddie and Venom. Oh, and by making it as ridiculous as humanly possible.
Francesca Rivera, IGN:
Let There Be Carnage’s strongest assets are our villains: Kasady, Carnage, and Shriek (Naomie Harris). They are antagonists with style and showmanship, something lacking in many of Marvel’s movies, reveling in the disaster they leave in their wake. As Kasady, Harrelson channels his Natural Born Killers character, Mickey Knox, fighting against the abusive systems of his past. When he’s reunited with someone from his past who’s just as smart, brutal, and remorseless as he is and their chemistry takes hold, it’s actually hard not to root for them to burn everything to the ground.
Jason Guerrasio, Insider:
Let me put it this way, back when I wrote a review for the first one I mentioned “if the whole movie was Eddie and Venom arguing about the ethics of biting people’s head’s off… I would be the first in line for that.” Well… they went and made that movie!
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly:
Harrelson’s Cletus, with his homicidal-hillbilly energy and hair seemingly purloined from the wig room at Riverdale, doesn’t really need an extraterrestrial parasite to set him free; he looks like he’s having a ball. … That happy, heedless embrace of anarchy somehow serves the movie’s YOLO sensibility, and even comes to define it in its own way — if we’re all disposable space chum in this franchise game anyway, who needs a coherent narrative and character arcs?
William Bibbiani, The Wrap:
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is a bold and brisk superhero story, unlike any other mainstream Hollywood film in the genre. It crams a heck of a lot of movie into an hour and a half, but it doesn’t feel like it needed to be longer. It just feels like we need more movies like it.
K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone:
A few of its forays into strangeness outstay their welcome; you can feel the movie trying harder than the original had to to prove its bullshit-artistry bona fides. But this is still the cozy, goofy universe Hardy and gang carved out for us last time, with the benefit of Serkis making it altogether more lean — the main setup has already been accounted for; not much has changed — and doubling down on the man-baby theatrics that made Venom so disarmingly funny.
Benjamin Lee, The Guardian:
Hardy, to his credit, works hard for that big paycheck yet again, not required to show off quite as much manic physicality as before but committing himself to the stupidity of it all with full vigor.
Christy Lemire, RoberEbert.com:
Under director Serkis, taking over for Ruben Fleischer, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is zippy and breezy. It’s not about the world ending, as is so often the case in comic-book extravaganzas, and it’s only sort of about one man’s struggle with his own literal and figurative demons. Besides giving a gung-ho physical performance, Hardy shares story-by credit with returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel—who, by the way, was wise enough to mine “Fifty Shades of Grey” for its inherent, absurd humor.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire:
No other big budget superhero franchise has gone so totally whole-hog on genuine comedy than “Venom,” and while the meat of the story sounds terrifying — alien symbiotes? a serial killer with superpowers? a hero who likes to eat people? — there’s hardly a heavy moment in the entire film. It is all very, very funny, but it’s also very, very silly. Which is not to imply that’s not welcome.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage opens in theaters on October 1.