The problem with the first Venom movie was…well, most of it, actually.
From our review at the time, I’m sure you could have gathered that. Despite a great cast (and God, Riz Ahmed in a villainous role, which should have been a knock-it-out-of-the-park piece of casting) and a beloved antihero lead, nothing about this movie really comes together in a way that works.
Honestly, when I heard about the sequel, I rolled my eyes. Just another excuse to take up Tom Hardy’s valuable time with more superheroic dreck, right? But having watched the trailer, I might just have changed my mind on that, and I would love to share my thoughts on it with you.
A first film, one that introduces us to the character we’re going to be following, unfortunately requires at least a small sliver of serious-taking to sell us on this lead in the first place. The worst thing for Venom, I think, was asking them to be anything other than a wildly silly double-trouble odd-couple comedy. Throw in the actual plot – the actual action, too, ugh – and it all becomes too serious for its own good, takes away from what could be a lot of fun. But the second film? The second film, assured that the viewers are already invested, can have some fun, and that’s what this trailer looks like.
For one thing, let’s talk about Woody Harrelson: playing the villainous Carnage of the title (and the title, let’s be real, is fucking hilariously dreadful), he’s bringing the deranged energy that I truly want from a supervillain. The angsty superhero movie villain has been and gone; it was over and done with after The Dark Knight, as far as I’m concerned, and I am frankly sick of writers and directors trying to pretend this is anything other than grown adults playing dress-up and shouting nonsense at one another for fun (see also: Legends of Tomorrow). Woody Harrelson has one of two modes: Oscar-nominated character actor, or whooping maniac. I don’t think I need to tell you which one this is going to be, but I’m loving the snippets we’ve seen here – and hoping that this movie can divest itself of the required seriousness that so tripped up the first movie.
Add to that the rest of this trailer – that seems to be focused more on daft sit-comedy involving Eddie Brock living with Venom – and this feels far more like the Venom movie that I wanted to see in the first place. Not something dark, gritty, and serious, with dodgy special effects and messy grey fight scenes that are virtually unwatchable, but something that really embraces the inherent comedy and absurdity at the centre of this premise and has some fun with it. Both Harrelson and Hardy can really chew the scenery given the chance, and I’d love for this to just be an exercise in who can do it harder –
the first film took itself far too seriously to let its failings slide, but a little more fun leaves a lot more room to play.
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By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Slash Film)