Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Written by Alexander Reams

80/100

“Fuck this guy.” 

Venom always knows what to say. No matter the situation he always seems to have a one-liner cocked and ready to go. Following the massive and surprising success despite a universal critical panning of its 2018 predecessor, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, is a sequel that knows exactly what it is. A breath of fresh air in the heavily inundated superhero film culture. Bringing on a director like Andy Serkis, who has possibly the most experience in motion capture performance of any actor, was not only the next logical step but the smartest decision Sony could’ve made. A director like Ruben Fleischer was a decent choice to introduce the character of Venom, but Serkis takes the foundation laid and elevates it to an insane level of zaniness and glee. 

Following the events of the first film, Eddie Brock and Venom are the odd couple with a capital “O”. Their relationship is strenuous at best, and at worst a force that can destroy Eddie’s apartment, including a bit involving Eddie’s relationship with a television. All the while, Cletus Kassidy (Woody Harrelson, going full Woody in all the best ways) is about to be executed for his mile-long list of crimes, events transpire, and he becomes the symbiote known as Carnage. Filling out the rest of the cast is Naomie Harris as Shriek, Michelle Williams and Reid Scott returning as Anne Weying and Dan Lewis respectively. 

Nowadays, superhero films are always so serious, and the tone of this film spits in the face of all of those films. Trading serious for silly on every level and everyone knows it, and the film works even more because of this. The first film wanted to be serious and turned silly, continuing that trajectory helped solidify the future of Eddie Brock

P.S. The post-credit scene truly does change the forefront of Eddie/Venom’s story and the forefront for the Sony Marvel characters.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Trailer

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is currently playing in wide theatrical release.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

No Time to Die (007)

Written by Taylor Baker

50/100

It’s been about a year and a half since No Time to Die was originally intended to bow into theaters. Cary Joji Fukanaga of True Detective fame, publicly picked up the fallen pieces of Boyle’s failed attempt to make Bond 25 back in 2018. Leading to what was described as rushed production. After viewing the finished product it’s hard to believe those reports were wrong. Fukanaga is mostly known for his HBO critical hit season 1 of the aforementioned True Detective, alongside later entries in his filmography with the likes of Netflix Limited Series Maniac, and a handful of films that have garnered critical acclaim. Most notable among then and also a Netflix Original Beasts of No Nation(which he also served as cinematographer for) from 2015. Fukanaga has been quietly accumulating one of the strongest and most singular voices in cinema since the late aughts. With excitement building around budding Global Starlet Ana de Armas coming off Blade Runner 2049 and the critical and audience success Knives Out alongside Craig as a heavily marketed new type of “Bond Girl”. And of course the fact that this is to serve as Craig’s last turn as Bond, James Bond. It seemed like everything was lining up for a brilliant rendition of everyone’s favorite British spy with a license to kill.

All this preamble serves not just as a historical assessment of how the film is hitting us now a year and a half after it was intended, but to frame the very real tangible expectations that it fails to live up to. No Time to Die is tasked with juggling multiple things, the end of Craig as Bond, storyline continuity (which Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been charged with 1999’s The World is Not Enough), a continuing romance, 4 writers(excluding Flemming’s “characters by” credit.), and a rushed production. Four writers as a rule of thumb is two to three too many. And on a ballooning franchise with so many interests, Nokia product placement deals and various other things to keep in order this finished product feels distinctly like multiple disjointed voices and parts Frankensteined together with so much production money that you can almost overlook perhaps the most underwhelming part of it, Rami Malek’s villain Safin.

Fukanaga’s best known for his visual cinematic prowess, which continues here, with exceptional extended sequences, meticulously crafted motion shots, effortless focus pulling… I could go on and on. But all that prowess in service of what? Some witty eyerolling jokes? Stakes that don’t ever become personal? A score of Indiana Jones references? It’s at once a self serious and self critical screenplay that fails to hone in on an actual narrative voice that lets us get a sense of what this Bond “wants”. Instead it shows what all Bond films always have, what he’s willing to die for. With more self reflexivity then we’ve seen recently, but not the interesting or good kind.

Overwrought with nonsensical symbolism, those big cinematic moments from the trailers play as well as you’d expect. The hallway and stairwell fight scenes are fun. de Armas despite her very very very brief time in the film is as charming as she is memorable. Once her sequence in Cuba ends I the rest of the runtime trying to drum up a reason in the plot for her to reappear. She doesn’t. She contrasts heavily against Seydoux’s generally eyerolling, uninteresting, and unfun Swann. I hate repeating myself within a review, but occasionally it’s necessary. The lack of emotionality to the various plot devices at work on screen is without question No Time to Die’s most glaring issue and likely what the film will be known for. Instead of a celebration Craig leaves Bond in an overlong stylized whimper.

No Time to Die Trailer

No Time to Die will be available via wide theatrical release on October 8th.

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

Episode 95: RoboCop / Starship Troopers / Miami Vice

“I don’t underestimate audiences’ intelligence. Audiences are much brighter than media gives them credit for. When people went to a movie once a week in the 1930s and that was their only exposure to media, you were required to do a different grammar.”

Michael Mann

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This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of Project Power & She Dies Tomorrow and the Feature Films: RoboCop, Starship Troopers, and Miami Vice.

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Streaming links for titles this episode

RoboCop is currently available on Prime Video

Starship Troopers is currently available on Tubi TV

Miami Vice is currently available to rent or purchase