Venom 2 review roundup: here's what critics are saying about the "wacky" sequel

Carnage in the Venom sequel
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Venom 2 reviews are in, and they're fairly mixed. 

The Venom sequel, officially titled Venom: Let There Be Carnage, picks up where the first movie left off – Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock is still a struggling journalist, but has secured an important interview with Woody Harrelson's Cletus Kasady. One thing leads to another, and Kasady becomes host to Carnage, a bloodthirsty symbiote. No Time to Die's Naomie Harris co-stars as Shriek, who's able to weaponize sound. Andy Serkis directs, and Michelle Williams returns as Anne Weying, while Stephen Graham plays Detective Mulligan. 

Critics generally agree that Harrelson is great as Kasady, and Hardy's return to Eddie is receiving praise, with the relationship between Eddie and Venom seems to be the highlight of the movie. Buzz is building around that mysterious post-credits scene, too. However, the plot of the movie has been in the firing line...

We've rounded up a selection of reviews for you to check out below – so scroll on to get an idea of what to expect from Venom: Let There Be Carnage. 

Variety – Peter Debruge

"Managed (more than directed) by motion-capture star-turned-aspiring blockbuster helmer Andy Serkis, Venom: Let There Be Carnage has all the indications of a slap-dash cash grab. The set-pieces look sloppy, the visual effects are all over the place, and the laughs come largely at the movie's expense. But it does introduce Carnage, so in that respect, mission accomplished. The irony, of course, is that in their haste to get a sequel into theaters, the execs couldn’t have known that a global pandemic would swoop in to delay the release by a year. If only they had slowed things down and taken their time to hash out a better story."

The Hollywood Reporter – John Defore

"Penned by star Tom Hardy and longtime collaborator Kelly Marcel, the film does develop the chemistry between the titular alien and the human he's forced to inhabit while inside Earth's atmosphere. But the distinctiveness of this buddy-movie bond is often drowned out by giant set pieces of CG mayhem that feel exactly like those found in the good guys' movies. Though it will please most fans of the 2018 first installment, Carnage proves that superhero fatigue applies to nonheroes as well."

Entertainment Weekly – Leah Greenblatt – C+

"British actor Andy Serkis, a godhead of Hobbit lore who likely knows this Comic-Con world of genre and fantasy better than most, directs the movie, though he feels more like a benevolent ringmaster here: Mostly it's a chance to watch Hardy bicker with his CG alter ego, who looks like an enraged ink blot with piranha teeth and talks like a doom-metal frontman, about snacks and housekeeping – Venom can sate his needs with chocolate and chickens, though of course he prefers human brains – and let Harrelson gleefully chew up the screen. There are a few big-reach set pieces, including frenzied showdowns inside a prison death chamber and a cavernous cathedral, though the crashing, helter-skelter fight scenes tend to feel like so much obligatory noise between the banter."

Screen Rant – Molly Freeman – 2.5/5

"Ultimately, Venom: Let There Be Carnage suffers a bit under the weight of expectations. Not only is [Kelly] Marcel trying to give fans of the first movie more of the dynamic between Eddie and Venom while still giving them character arcs, but Serkis is tasked with adapting Venom's most famous and beloved antagonist in Carnage and providing a well-developed villain story in the process. The result feels like it's being pulled in one too many directions and ends up feeling very messy. Thankfully, part of the charm of the burgeoning Venom movie franchise is that mess. The first movie was silly and messy and fun, and the sequel is even more so (intentionally, which detracts from its charm just a bit), but it's still a wildly entertaining ride."

IndieWire – Kate Erbland – C+

"Inevitably, all of these disparate characters, the human and the alien, the enjoyable and the boring, will find themselves forced together for one last bombastic battle, all flailing alien symbiote limbs and Harris-issued screams. Entire buildings fall and there's not a goddamn lobster to be seen, but Hardy has perhaps more fun than anyone has in the last dozen or so MCU outings, and that infectious glee is enough to keep the entire thing moving right along. No other big budget superhero franchise has gone so totally whole-hog on genuine comedy than Venom, and while the meat of the story sounds terrifying – alien symbiotes? a serial killer with superpowers? a hero who likes to eat people? – there's hardly a heavy moment in the entire film. It is all very, very funny, but it's also very, very silly."

Collider – Matt Goldberg – B

"I suppose if you like your comic book movies to play it a little straighter, then Let There Be Carnage will be frustrating. It's not a raunchy comedy like Deadpool nor is it a darker superhero picture like Batman. It exists awkwardly in between, but at least by leaning more towards comedy, you get an entertaining albeit instantly forgettable picture where a muscular CGI alien fires off quips. When he has to fight the other CGI thing, I instantly lost interest because this is not a movie about character or story but vibes. Perhaps you could counter that we should demand more from our movies, but I'd say we have no shortage of superhero movies with higher aspirations. At least Venom: Let There Be Carnage has the courtesy to be as fun as it is disposable."

Polygon – Oliver Sava

"Serkis' involvement allows the CGI Venom to take a true costar role alongside Hardy. Eddie's conversations with his goopy buddy have an antagonistic charge, and the symbiote gains a more playful personality thanks to the clever implementation of Venom's powers in Eddie's personal and professional life. Early on, the movie plays like a wacky mix of Ratatouille and The Silence Of The Lambs, with Woody Harrelson filling the Hannibal Lecter role as serial killer Cletus Kasady." – Jamie Jirak – 3/5 

"Unfortunately, the sequel manages to be nothing more than a forgettable 90 minutes that's barely saved by its exhilarating mid-credits scene. With any luck, Venom: Let There Be Carnage will get better with age like its predecessor, but for now, it's just a letdown."

For more of 2021's biggest releases, check out our guide to this years major movie release dates.

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.