More mega-movie mediocrity from Marvel in ‘Venom 2’

Hi bud: Tom Hardy and VFX friend star in ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’.

An inconsequential story, unintelligible dialogue and spool upon spool of loud, dull VFX action sequences set in the gloom of night and marked by motion blur make for yet another dreary Marvel film, so soon after the thud of Eternals. The one good thing here, though, is the relatively brief running time.

For the uninitiated, Venom is a giant, ugly monster with a huge head and a mouth full of long, dagger-like fangs who lives inside the mind and body of reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Think of an Alien beast with a smoother head, black complexion and a low growl of a voice that renders all he says all-but-incomprehensible.

In fact, Venom sounds a lot like super-villain Bane in The Dark Knight, who was played by Tom Hardy, so make whatever cute comparisons you like there.

The story, for what it is, sees jailed killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) being “infected” by Brock and assuming Venom-like powers of transformation.

So – crunch! bash! bang! – thus ensues a host of thoroughly familiar action sequences that are so frenzied in their staging they are positively wearying to behold.

There is a promising spot in the first reel where we get a glimpse of how Brock and Venom live ordinary life as apartment buddies. Unfortunately, the direction by Andy Serkis is so flat much of the humour has to be inferred. Perhaps, as a franchise off-shoot, they should do a whole Odd Couple-type film based on that idea. Just trying to help.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is supposed to feed into the Spider-man branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but, really, who cares?

As with all Marvel films – and Marvel-related films, as this one is because of Sony’s ownership of the Spider-man rights – you’re supposed to wait with bated breath during the final credit crawl for the big teaser scene but the practice has become quite tiresome by now because the films all look the same.

The one aspect of Venom 2 that is truly interesting is how the making of such a cinematic blancmange has the effect of muting the distinctive edge of the artists involved.

Famous for his ground-breaking motion-capture performances in Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis is also a fine actor (24 Hour Party People) and director (Breathe), yet his work here is a complete bland-out.

The same goes for Tom Hardy, a fabulous actor (Locke; Legend). He actually co-wrote the film yet his performance is colourless.

Whatever the benefits of being part of such a mega-franchise are, the price it exacts is pretty big when what ends up on the screen is just another assault of mediocrity.