Plot: What’s it about?
In May 1988 The Amazing Spider-Man issue #300 was released. It was a landmark in a couple of ways. First, it was the 300th issue. That’s always cause for celebration. But, and more importantly, it introduced the world to a character named Venom. Avid readers know that this wasn’t the first time we’d seen the black costume on Peter Parker, that appeared way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #252. But it wasn’t until that black alien symbiote “blog” merged with Eddie Brock that gave us the character we know know as Venom. And if you were smart enough to buy a copy or two of ASM #300, those are now going for a few thousand a piece. I, of course, wasn’t. Oh well. Venom quickly became, and still remains, one of the most popular comic book (anti)heroes even today. So in 2018 when Venom was released, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. On one hand it was nice to see this in film form (though it’d already been done in Spider-Man 3), but with no ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was just kind of…there. Sony evidently had plans for a Spider-Man universe all their own, however with the lackluster reviews and box office, we now know that our favorite web slinger has been a part of the MCU since Captain America: Civil War. A few years have passed, the teased ending for Venom promised us Carnage. Did they deliver? Let’s find out.
Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock, trying to get his career back on track he meets with the imprisoned serial killer Cletus Kassidy (Woody Harrelson). During their interview, Cletus manages to get some of the symbiote in his body which gives us, you guessed it, Carnage. Now empowered with this alien life form, he manages to break out of jail and is in search of his long lost love, Frances (Naomie Harris). And, in a nutshell, that’s it. I don’t think the filmmakers were out to challenge our collective intellects too much on this one. It’s just 90 minutes of Venom and Carnage mixed in with a few scenes of Anne (Michelle Williams) and her new boyfriend. But, then again, that might be all that’s needed. Comic book aficionados (like myself) got a kick out of seeing Venom battle his nemesis Carnage on screen. And audiences seemed to like it as well as the film made nearly $500 million worldwide.
But there’s one question that everyone wanted to know…
Minor spoilers for this movie follow. Proceed at your own risk!
While it was fun and neat to see these two characters finally on screen together (at least in CGI form), it was all a moot point. After all, the MCU keeps growing with new movies and television series. Wouldn’t it be cool to have Venom and Carnage (and Toxin) as part of the MCU? Well, friends, the wait is over. In a mid-credits sequence, we see that Venom and Eddie Brock watch J.K. Simmons on the television with a shot of Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Venom licks the screen (he’s a bit…off) and…that’s where we end. It’s not a lot, but we now know that these characters are a part of the MCU. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. So while we get a rather lackluster film, it was in the capable hands of Andy Serkis (yes, the actor who gave us Gollum among others). Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, but the die has been cast and it sets the stage for so much more!
Video: How’s it look?
I’d remarked in my review of Venom that “…I suppose it’s hard to classify how a movie starring an alien suit of skin with huge teeth should really look on screen. Is there an antecedent for that?” And, well, not a lot has changed. We’re in the same locale (San Francisco) that give us some of the sweeping really give us a great, HD view of the city by the sea. Flesh tones, for lack of a better term, look nice and natural. Black levels, which admittedly play a larger part here, are simply perfect. Venom’s “skin” takes on a shiny form that seems to flawlessly meld with Hardy’s character (that’s the point) and Carnage has a texture to “him” that’s really hard to put into words. The included Blu-ray looks great too, it’s just that the 4K ups the ante a tad bit more.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Not to be outdone, the Dolby Atmos mix is certainly not wasted on this film. If you’re like me and hear voices in your head, then you’ll be able to identify with Hardy’s character and Venom telling him what to do. Kidding, of course. But the Venom “voice” really does resonate and it makes for a worthwhile viewing experience and it actually is Tom Hardy’s voice. He recorded it prior to shooting his scenes and had it played back in an earpiece so he could react to the dialogue. Not to be outdone, there are some chase scenes, plenty of action around the Bay area and things, of course, get blown up. And guess what – it all sounds amazing! The atmospheric sound really does the job here with a veritable 360 sound stage that’s, for lack of a better word, dizzying. It really is a great soundtrack.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Outtakes & Bloopers – Basically that. Nothing that had me crack a smile, though.
- Eddie & Venom: The Odd Couple – What happens when two beings inhabit one body? A whole lot of chaos. Tom Hardy, Andy Serkis, and the team of filmmakers talk all things Eddie and Venom.
- Concept to Carnage – Trace the design and animation of Carnage from comic book image to screen symbiotic.
- Deleted Scenes – Six total, though a few are simply extended scenes with an alternate take.
- Alternate Mugging
- Break Up (Extended)
- St. Estes Flashback
- Unholy Trinity (Extended)
- Burning St. Estes (Alternate)
- Beach (Extended Ending)
- Let There Be…Action – Go on the set and experience the action of how Venom: Let There Be Carnage takes shape. From concept to stage, from green screen to film screen, follow the making of the film and see the intense stunts that were captured.
- Tangled Web: Easter Eggs – generic explanation here.
- Sick and Twisted Cletus Kassidy – Imagining this iconic and psychotic comic book villain for screen with Woody Harrelson, director Andy Serkis, and the production team.
- A Fine Romance: Cletus & Shriek – The relationship between Cletus Kassidy and his love interest, Shriek, is explored tracking its roots back to their comic book origins.
- Select Scene Previs – Three total.
- Ravencroft Breakout
- San Quentin Carnage
- Show & Tell
The Bottom Line
As it turns out, this film is quite “important” in the sense that it introduces a new slew of characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s a big deal. As it was before, these characters just existed in their own little world with little or no impact on anything outside of it. Sony’s 4K disc is, of course, reference-quality material with top notch audio and video.