So I liked this substantially more than the first movie and I think it’s for one main reason: Venom is present from the beginning. I don’t remember if there were this many wisecracks in the first film but, if there were, I was already pretty bored when they started. Here it’s clearly a comedy (in part) from the beginning and that’s a breath fresh air.
I didn’t love the first movie but I did find Venom entertaining. And that saving grace of this film is that Venom is here from the beginning and slinging quips basically incessantly. When Venom and Brock separate, it gets particularly ridiculous and funny, gently mocking our modern obsession with identity, which is kind of a brilliant spin on this character.
But Venom is the best part of this movie and Venom is hardly the focus all of the time. Harrelson, an actor I’ve long been a fan of, isn’t particularly great in this. He’s fine, I guess, but that wig is distracting and it feels like I’ve seen him do this before. Moreover, the casting of him and Harris is hilariously off, given their 15 year age difference. This came out in 2021 when any of us can look up the age difference in 5 seconds. They grew up together? Really?
The film’s plot relies on you having waited through the credits of the first movie to watch a scene. We didn’t. So we had to look up what the hell was happening. That is a mistake, I think.
I appreciate that, once again, this film’s stakes are way, way lower than the MCU films’ stakes. But, once again, the climactic battle is not fun – it’s two CGI monsters fighting each other by stabbing each other and wrestling and all sorts of other things. At least one is red this time, so it’s easier to tell Carnage from Venom than it was Riot. But we still don’t really know what’s happening because we don’t know how much harm is done even when the fire and sound come in. This is something that I think is regularly lost in CGI fights – we have some general idea of how much a human being is harmed in a fight (though movies take this way too far) but we have no idea with CGI monsters, particularly semi-liquid monsters like the symbiotes. I understand this is, to some degree, a flaw with the character, not with the movie, but I can’t say I like it. I basically stop paying attention when the monsters fight – I know how it will eventually end and I don’t find anything about it compelling.
But, prior to the climax, I laughed a whole bunch and generally found the film more entertaining overall than the first film.