Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage ★★★½

An Extremely Goopy Movie. Doubling down on the idiocy and perverse delight of the first (a real grower not shower of a movie), this lean, mean number doesn't have an ounce of fat on it as it barrels through a bare minimum of exposition before devoting the other 85% of the movie to a combination of brutal action that flirts seriously with an R rating and a continuation of the first movie's buddy-cop/odd-coupe energy between Tom Hardy and the goop that lives within him. Hardy only deepens his commitment to Eddie as a shambling, flop-sweatèd loser, a Warren Oates character played by Warren Oates a month before the cancer took him. All movie superheroes now are defined by self-doubt and reluctance, but only Eddie truly looks completely unqualified to do his own taxes, much less circumnavigate rules of engagement.

The contrast between this movie and the trailer for the upcoming MCU mainstays that preceded it could not have been more stark. Eternals, based on an unleashed Jack Kirby going full cosmic psychedelic, has been rendered as a Levi's ad where everyone makes the Dreamworks face. This is explosive and kinetic and absurd, propelled by a lead actor who literally vibrates in nearly every scene, pit against a guy who is straight up paying tribute to himself and his Natural Born Killers performance, all while fully embracing the nihilistic disregard that other superhero movies contain but try to steer into the inspirational. If Tony Stark can be a libertarian egomaniac who cut out the middleman of the military-industrial complex and people will earnestly get mad if you point this out, I'll take a leaking, jibbering Eddie Brock barely holding back his alter ego from killing everyone every day of the week.