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George At 

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Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage

It’s official. Tom Hardy loves being in movies where you can’t understand a damn thing he’s saying. I’ve seen him as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” at least 6 times and I still can’t understand half of Bane’s dialogue behind that damn mask. Somebody turn on the subtitles!

He mumbles his way through half of VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE too, which is a shame because when you can understand him as Venom, many of the lines are hilarious throwaways.

Speaking of throwaways, someone should have tossed out the screenplay for this silly, slight but loud sequel.

Rebel reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) sees a chance to reclaim his fame when death row serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson at full tilt) requests him for his pre-execution final interview. When things go badly and Kasady bites Brock, he’s infected with that nasty symbiote thing and he turns into Carnage, a bigger, redder version of Venom.

Meanwhile, Venom gets mad at Eddie and destroys his apartment, leaving Brock’s body to wander the streets in search of validation.

It’s as dumb as it sounds.

At only 97 minutes, you can’t call it overlong, but you can call the whole thing unnecessary.

Naomie Harris (Moneypenny in Craig’s Bond films) is completely wasted as Kasady’s psycho love interest, Michelle Williams brings some class as Eddie’s ex and Peggy Lu returns as Mrs. Chen, the manager of a bodega near Eddie/Venom’s apartment. Lu delivers huge laughs and some much-needed energy to the proceedings in her short appearances.

There are decent action scenes but at least two too many battles between Carnage and Venom.

Director Andy Serkis is a brilliant motion capture actor. He played Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Caesar In the latest Planet of the Apes series, legendary work in both. This is his first major film as a director, its frantic and less than cohesive.

It seems like the PG-13 doomed this weak sequel to be far less bloody and adult than it really should have been. Venom is vicious, right? Nope, he’s neutered by the family friendly rating.

In the vast canon of Marvel films, surely this effort ranks near the bottom.

Maybe they should have expanded the “look, Venom is at a rave!” scene to 90 minutes. At least that part was enjoyable.

VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE stumbles weakly to a C-.

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