Venom: Let There Be Carnage blends Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with the old Odd Couple TV series, then aims it firmly at 12-year-olds of all ages.
Once the films based on Marvel Comics really started rolling, there’ve been so many they’ve had to be shared between several companies.
There are the actual, official Marvel releases – Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers and so on. There are the X Men and Deadpool films, made by Fox, and there’s Columbia who mostly make Spiderman, and more recently Venom.
Venom is distinguished from the mainstream Marvel product by being a bit stupid and juvenile.
It’s quite violent, but it’s M-rated violent. There’s a remarkably low body count, for instance, which is unusual since our anti-hero is a thing from another planet that likes to eat people.
Let me explain. Or rather let Eddie Brock explain. Eddie is a washed-up journalist - he makes Spiderman’s hapless alter ego Peter Parker look like a Pulitzer Prize winner.
One day Eddie’s body was taken over by an alien being called Venom.
Venom may look terrifying when he pops out of Eddie’s body – all teeth and tongue – but he and Eddie, and a few of Eddie’s closest friends, all seem to get along. So long as Venom is fed properly.
If he can’t find any bad guys to eat, Venom is perfectly satisfied with chocolate …which he picks up at Mrs Chen’s corner shop.
There’s also a lacklustre sub-plot involving Eddie pining for his ex-fiancee Anne. Anne seems a bit of a waste of Michelle Williams, but maybe she asked for her part to be reduced.
Don’t worry, Michelle. Nobody you know will ever see you in Venom!
No such luck for star Tom Hardy who plays both of the Odd Couple of Eddie and Venom. Tom possibly took on the role for the money a couple of years back, presuming something as flimsy as this was a one-off deal.
Au contraire, Tom. To everyone’s astonishment, the first Venom conquered the box office, and the second one looks like it might repeat the trick.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage finds Eddie being summoned to the local prison where homicidal maniac Cletus is about to make a date with Fate.
Cletus specifically wanted to see Eddie for some reason, but what can it be?
Eddie reluctantly turns up, expecting a good serial-killer story for his employers. But he’s shocked to discover it was all a ruse, as Cletus lunges at him and bites his finger.
Don’t worry about it. It’s just a plot device to put some Venom-type blood into the body of…. Did I mention Cletus was a homicidal maniac?
No sooner is Cletus infected but he turns into a rather bigger and redder version of Venom at the very moment he’s about to be executed.
And these days he prefers to go by Carnage. “Soon come Chaos, Chaos soon come,” he says, sounding a little like Bruce Forsyth on the old Generation Game.
Carnage is played by Hollywood good sport Woody Harrelson, an actor who’ll give you a brilliant performance – comic or dramatic – if you need it, and a performance like this if you don’t.
The Carnage storyline, such as it is, involves freeing an old girlfriend called Shriek - not so much phoned in by Naomie Harris, as screamed in.
The film is directed by Andy Serkis of all people, who was possibly picked because of his familiarity with two characters sharing one body.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage makes no claims to be high art, or even the superior sort of entertainment that the official Marvel company makes.
It’s a pure, old-fashioned genre picture, the sort that nobody likes but the public. Let them have it, I say.