'Venom' trailer 2 review: Dark, moody, and grotesque, is Tom Hardy-starrer pushing the anti-hero envelope too far?
After disappointing fans with a less-than-horrifying teaser, Sony unveiled a brazen and rather instense trailer revealing Eddie Brock's transformation into the anti-hero 'Venom'.
Welcome to the horror show that is 'Venom' - Sony's Spidey-less 'Spider-Man' spinoff - and its accompanying barrage of spine-chilling, blood-curdling poster and trailer releases. After mildly disappointing fans with a less-than-horrifying trailer back in April, the studio chose to go full brazen recently, pasting Tom Hardy's rendition of Eddie Brock aka Venom left, right, and center in the latest teaser for the movie, releasing October 5.
One might even argue that Sony is trying a little too hard with its newest 'Venom' trailer, replete with horrifying glimpses of the symbiotic alien parasite taking over the body of Hardy's journalist character (which is nothing compared to the movie's latest poster, targetting the Japanese market). With the side profile of the alien symbiote - accentuated by monstrous teeth and tentacle-like tongue - the Asia-specific promo is sure to send chills down your spine.
So far, the way promotion has been carried out, it's pretty evident that the Spider-Man universe-set superhero movie is banking high on the elements of horror. And this shouldn't come as a surprise to fans either. In the recent past, box-office blockbusters like 'Suicide Squad' and the 'Deadpool' franchise has clearly established that movie-goers are in love with R-rated action, in the process, whetting the appetite further for anti-hero flicks.
"The world has enough superheroes," reads the 'Venom' movie description on social media. Taking a sly jab at the plethora of superhero franchises, director Ruben Fleischer's latest uses antagonistic trademarks of its titular comic book character to promote the adaptation amongst fans. Yes, there are (way) too many superhero movies (and why not? they are the perfect formula to BO numbers). But there's is no dearth of anti-hero flicks either. Apart from studio stalwarts like Marvel and DC, almost everyone else is trying their luck with the darker side of the comic book universe.
With all these parameters in mind, 'Venom' would possibly be treading a thin line between superhero stereotypes and a dark, moody, bleak vibe - moods that were reflected in a copious amount in the latest trailer. In fact, if Fleischer is to be believed, tonally, Hardy's upcoming saga would be miles away from the trend followed by DC/Marvel. To begin with, there is no "real hero" in 'Venom.'
"I feel like the tone of our movie is really original and distinctive, which is totally appropriate for the character, as Venom is a darker, more violent, more menacing character. I think our movie feels distinctive from a lot of the other superhero movies, in part because there's no real hero in it," the 43-year-old filmmaker, who has movies like 'Zombieland' and 'Gangster Squad' to his credit dished.
His hint falls in line with the message that 'Venom's' promos have been trying to insinuate - "embrace your inner antihero."
"So it's just a movie that kind of stands on its own, led by incredible performances by fine actors such as [Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed]," tells Fleischer. And we couldn't agree more. After all, the star power associated with the film is undoubtedly its biggest USP. Previous iterations of dark and moody comic book-based flicks such as Ben Affleck starrer 'Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice', director Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen' and Hugh Jackman's last Wolverine outing, 'Logan' (although an anti-hero exception) - has garnered a mixed response from the viewers. As a result, there is almost no sure-shot method that the 'Venom' movie could draw inspiration from - which can be both good and bad. Good, because the source material, approach, and treatment of the character - a notorious Marvel Comics villain and a fan-favorite - is almost fresh.
But concerns are mostly over Hardy's 'Venom' adaptation becoming a complete freakshow - fears of which have been triggered in a way by the latest trailer. Fleischer's history with the horror genre could be partially responsible for this. Evidently, 'Venom' is not his first experience, and even in terms of comic book renditions, the director seems unfazed about pushing the boundaries of darkness and violence in his pursuit of achieving a final product that is tonally similar to the original comics.
"Our movie wants to honor the comics as close as we can tonally," Fleischer has said in an old interview, dishing about his R-rated flick. "In the comics, he bites people's heads off and eats brains. It would be weird to make a movie with Venom if he wasn't doing that. We tried to honor it as closely as possible. This is definitely a darker, more violent, more vicious Marvel character than I think anyone's ever seen before."
As it turns out, the 'Venom' director is delivery exactly what he promised. In a footage that debuted earlier during the SDCC, scenes of Eddie Brock and his alien alter ego were teased for the first time, describing how "Venom’s head [stretched] out of Brock’s body to have a conversation with him, similar to what might happen in the comics, and Venom making axes with his own hands.” All of this, pretty much, indicate an intense cinematic experience, almost reeking of the aftereffect of dark stories set in the Batverse like 'Dawn of Justice' - and we all know how Snyder's attempt ultimately fared with the audience.
Undoubtedly, it will take more than Hardy (and his co-stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Woody Harrelson ) to ensure Venom's stellar box-office performance. Ever more so, as this Spider-Man spinoff is attempting to swing its way into the hearts of comics lovers minus Spider-Man himself.
While I am all up for an R-rated anti-hero, here's to hoping that Fleischer picks up the pieces unlike Snyder to deliver the right balance of antagonism and superheroism.