Venom: Let There Be Carnage

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/14/21;
Sony Pictures;
Action;
Box Office $212.5 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99, Blu-ray, $45.99 UH BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references.
Stars Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Peggy Lu.

The follow-up to 2018’s Venom is even more bizarre than its predecessor.

The sequel finds journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) continuing to co-exist with Venom, the alien symbiote from Marvel Comics that has bonded with him and occasionally takes over his body. Brock is asked to interview death-row inmate Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who was introduced at the end of the last film, and with Venom’s help is able to uncover where Kasady hid the bodies of his murder victims.

During one meeting, Venom is provoked into attacking Kasady, who bites Brock’s hand and absorbs some of the symbiote, which evolves into a new being named Carnage.

During Kasady’s lethal injection, Carnage emerges and helps him escape from prison. Kasady then seeks out his long-lost love Frances (Naomie Harris), who was separated from him when they were kids because she can scream destructive sonic blasts, earning her the nickname Shriek.

Meanwhile, Venom and Brock have a fight because Venom needs to eat human brains and Eddie won’t let him chow down on bad guys, so Venom detaches from Eddie and starts exploring the world with other hosts, though they aren’t as compatible with him as Eddie was and burn out quickly.

As Brock helps the police track own Kasady, Carnage and Kasady vow to destroy Brock and Venom, setting up a brutal final showdown.

Let There Be Carnage doubles down on all the quirks of the first film, particularly Hardy’s offbeat performance.

Directing duties for the sequel were taken over by Andy Serkis, and the process of making the film is covered in the seven-minute “Let There Be … Action” featurette on both the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.

The Blu-ray also includes several additional interesting featurettes, such as the 10-minute “Eddie & Venom: The Odd Couple,” the five-and-a-half-minute “Sick and Twisted Cletus Kasady,” and the four-and-a-half-minute “Concept to Carnage,” about designing the new villain. Also included is the five-minute “A Fine Romance: Cletus & Shriek,” and the four-and-a-half-minute “Tangled Web: Easter Eggs,” which tracks the films’ references to the comic book source material.

The Blu-ray also includes a three-minute blooper reel, eight-and-a-half-minutes of select scene pre-vis sequences, and six deleted scenes that run a total of nine-and-a-half minutes, mostly including alternate and extended versions of scenes, and an alternate ending.

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JustWatch: ‘Venom,’ ‘Squid Game’ Dominate Weekly Streaming

The box office success of Venom: Let There Be Carnage has helped rejuvenate consumer interest in the original 2018 Sony Pictures sci-fi actioner starring Tom Hardy.

New weekly data from JustWatch found that the original Venom movie, along with Netflix’s South Korean original series “Squid Game,” were the two most-streamed programs for the week ended Oct. 3. The company’s international streaming guide tracks more than 20 million users per month across 54 countries.

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Notably, sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage ranked No. 6, suggesting Sony made the movie available on digital platforms in select overseas markets. The movie is not yet available to stream in the U.S. as Sony does not operate a proprietary streaming platform.

However, MGM made new release The Addams Family 2 available for $19.99 premium VOD access, a move that placed the sequel No. 3 on the JustWatch list — while still generating $18 million at the domestic box office.

 

Sony Pictures’ ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Eyes Box Office Domination

Sony Pictures is set to launch its first major theatrical release in the pandemic era with the Oct. 1 debut of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, sequel to the 2018 Tom Hardy-starrer Venom, which generated $856 million at the global box office.

With Hardy reprising his role as media journalist Eddie Brock, who has an unusual internal bond with an alien symbiote, Sony is looking to replicate the original’s pre-pandemic $80 million opening domestic weekend box office. Industry observers contend the title could generate about $60 million due to ongoing moviegoer concerns about the Delta variant. But with Woody Harrelson cast as serial killer Cletus Kassidy in the sequel, pre-launch social media buzz has been strong.

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Regardless, Let There Be Carnage looks to usher in a strong slate of October movies (MGM’s No Time to Die and Universal’s Halloween Kills) for exhibitors following September’s lone standout: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings from Disney-owned Marvel Studios.

Beginning this weekend, MGM/United Artists Releasing’s animation comedy The Addams Family 2 seeks to replicate the 2019 original that generated more than $203 million at the worldwide box office. Observers contend the title will realize upwards of $18 million in opening domestic ticket sales — despite the title also being available on PVOD for $19.99.

While Venom 2 has an exclusive theatrical release, Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Many Saints of Newark does not. The rebooted prequel to the HBO series “The Sopranos” concurrently streams for no extra cost to HBO Max subscribers.

The studio’s other recent releases, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, Reminiscence, Malignant and Those Who Wish Me Dead all saw diminished box office returns — some observers contend was largely due to the movies’ simultaneous availability on Max.

Meanwhile, weekend box office returnees include Shang-Chi, with a projected $6.2 million box office, followed by Universal Pictures’ young adult musical Dear Evan Hansen ($2.8 million); 20th Century Studios’ action comedy Free Guy ($2.3 million); Universal’s Candyman ($1.5 million); and Disney’s Jungle Cruise ($900,000). The latter three titles are also available via digital retail channels.

Warner Bros. Re-Releasing Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Movies on Imax Screens

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the first published appearance of the Batman comic in May 1939, Warner Bros. March 13 began selling tickets to special Imax screenings for all three movies from director Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy featuring Christian Bale as the masked crusader.

Moviegoers who acquire tickets for all three films receive a lanyard and special “Dark Knight” Trilogy collectible.

Christopher Nolan directs Christian Bale and Tom Hardy in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’

On March 30, the films — 2005’s Batman Begins, 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises— will screen back-to-back at the Universal Cinema AMC in Los Angeles. During an interlude between the second and third films, Nolan will join the audience for a moderated Q&A discussion on the movies.

On April 13, the three films will screen at AMC Lincoln Square in New York and AMC Metreon in San Francisco, followed by Cinesphere Ontario Place, Toronto, and Imax Theatre at the Indiana State Museum, Ind., on April 20, each accompanied by the footage of Nolan’s Los Angeles appearance.

In all five cities, all three movies will be seen in the director’s preferred 70mm format, providing an all-encompassing moviegoing experience.

Nolan with The Dark Knight (with Heath Ledger as The Joker) was the first director to shoot action sequences of a major feature film with Imax cameras, revolutionizing the integration of Imax and standard formats. He utilized Imax cameras more extensively in The Dark Knight Rises.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight.’

“Christopher Nolan broke new ground with the ‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy, and this is a rare chance for today’s audiences to experience these extraordinary films as they were meant to be seen,” Jeff Goldstein, president, domestic distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement. “To have the added privilege of hearing Chris’s insights firsthand makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Venom

Tom Hardy brings the fan-favorite antihero Venom to life in this entertaining throwback to the wild sensibilities of the comic book movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Blu-ray is loaded with bonus materials that should satisfy fans of both the character’s history and his film adaptation.

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Action;
Box Office $213.03 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson.

The character of Venom’s journey to the big screen shares a lot of parallels with Deadpool, in that both were introduced as a villain in another character’s poorly received movie before getting a second chance after years of development hell to get a movie of their own.

Venom was originally introduced in the 1980s as an alien entity that served as an antagonist for Spider-Man before his increasing popularity led writers to shift him into the role of an anti-hero (often dubbed the “lethal protector”). He’s essentially a living black goo known as a symbiote, which merges with a human host to create a hulking beast with super abilities and a voracious appetite.

The character’s big-screen debut came in 2007 via a much-maligned appearance in the awful Spider-Man 3, when he was shoehorned into the story allegedly at the behest of studio executives looking to make a spinoff. (Likewise, Deadpool first appeared in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which all of his fan-favorite traits were removed — a blunder subsequently lampooned in the mega-successful “Deadpool” solo movies that were only made after the popularity of leaked test footage pressured a reluctant Fox into greenlighting the project.)

When the “Spider-Man” franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, plans emerged for Venom to be included in a Sony Spider-Man cinematic universe, only for the poor reception of 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to put a hold on that as well.

Then Sony made a deal with Marvel Studios to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and when that proved successful Sony felt confident in moving forward with Spider-Man-related side projects, including Venom and the animated Into the Spider-Verse.

But, with the live-action Spider-Man on loan to Marvel’s creative team, Sony had to develop Venom without using Spider-Man in his origin story, as the two characters are intricately connected in the comic books. Originally, the symbiote bonded with Peter Parker before moving on to a better-suited host, Peter’s journalistic rival Eddie Brock, to finally become Venom. This paved the way for the expansion of the symbiote concept and the introduction of characters such as Carnage and Riot who could serve as villains for Venom.

So, in the Venom movie, the symbiotes are discovered on a comet and brought to Earth by a space mission funded by megalomaniacal rich guy Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). But the ship crashes and some of the symbiotes get loose before Drake’s cronies can round up the rest for experimentation.

Drake realizes they need human hosts to survive on Earth, so he kidnaps homeless people to test out his theories. This arouses the suspicions of Web reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), whose attempts to investigate Drake’s lab cause him to come into contact with the Venom symbiote, which takes over his body.

The symbiote is able to communicate telepathically with its host, and we learn that symbiotes need to have a good match with their hosts for the pairing to work, and apparently Eddie is well matched for Venom.

Of course, with Venom/Eddie on the loose, Drake sends out a private army to kill him, leading to several action sequences around the streets of San Francisco. Drake wants to send another rocket to the comet to bring back more symbiotes, a plan that Eddie/Venom vows to stop, even if it means fighting other symbiotes who support Drake’s mission. (This being a comic book movie, a finale featuring the main character battling the evil version of himself is almost a foregone conclusion.)

The best aspect of the movie is the interaction Hardy has with, well, himself — the interplay between Brock and the Venom voice in his head that wants him to find food and that he has to convince to stop eating people.

Part action, part horror, part buddy comedy, the film shifts tone at will in its efforts to stay faithful to the character while maintaining the commercial appeal of a ‘PG-13’ movie. It feels a lot like a throwback to a 1990s or early 2000s comic book movie that would try anything to entertain its audience. The visual effects are appropriately over the top, awash in CGI flair as gooey symbiotes launch tendrils and ooze across the room in attacking whomever is nearby.

The Blu-ray comes with a “Venom Mode” that offers pop-up trivia about the character and production while the movie plays. The information is low-key and unobtrusive, but often relates facts that might not be as interesting as answering questions that might pop into a viewer’s head during a given scene.

Three deleted scenes offer some more insights about the Venom character — one features Eddie talking to himself in a cab, another shows Venom’s hilarious response to an annoying car alarm, and the third is an extended version of a post-credits scene that teases a potential villain for the sequel.

Also included are about an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, highlighted by the 20-minute “From Symbiote to Screen,” a good primer on the history of the Venom character. The three-minute “Symbiote Secrets” unveils some of the hidden references in the film.

In addition, there’s a gallery of visual-effects progressions from storyboard to finished film.

The disc also offers a bonus scene from the recently released Spider-Man: Into the Universe, both tacked on to the end of the movie and included separately. This is in addition to the Spider-Verse trailer that plays when the disc loads.

Finally, the disc includes two music videos: one for Eminem’s Venom title track, and another for an Into the Spider-Verse song, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee.

Venom

Sony Plans to Inject ‘Venom’ Into December

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Venom through digital retailers Dec. 11, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 18.

Based on the popular Marvel Comics character, Venom tells the story of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a broken man whose life is turned around when he becomes host to an alien symbiote that gives him superpowers. The cast also includes Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate and Woody Harrelson.

The film has earned $211.7 million at the domestic box office and more than $822.5 million worldwide.

Bonus material will include a “Venom Mode” with pop-up trivia about the film; deleted and extended scenes; the featurette From Symbiote to Screen, about the history of the character; several behind-the-scenes featurettes; a featurette about hidden references in the film; pre-visualization versions of key scenes; a music video for Eminem’s “Venom”; and a preview of the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with a music video for “Sunflower” from Post Malone and Swae-Lee.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will include Dolby Vision high dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound.