Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: New Hellboy will make you miss the days of Del Toro

Hellboy Review

Guillermo del Toro got the ball rolling with Hellboy on screen in 2004. I really like that movie. But "Hellboy: The Golden Army," that is a movie that is the prime definition of a movie that was much better than it needed to be. It is easily one of my very favorite sequels. The summer of 2008 and was a money fest. So it was easily for less recognizable titles getting lost in the shuffle, but that is too bad, because that is a great, great sequel. It was weird, because del Toro set up a crazy story for a potential third movie. He also, roughly a year ago, put a Twitter poll allowing people to vote whether or not they wanted to see his third movie. Weird, because after his poll came back overwhelmingly in his favor, it was decided the whole series would be rebooted.

We got David Harbour stepping in for Ron Perlman. We got Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane. It certainly feels like a Hellboy movie. It has a dark sense of humor. It is shockingly violent in some parts, and eerily dark in others. I think there was potential to make an interesting Hellboy movie with this cast. But this new film commits the cardinal foul. It all feels like a big fat, "been there, done that."

It was the same problem I had when Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 4" was halted at Sony and they rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb at the helm. Re-watch Raimi's film closely, and then watch the two films Webb made. Sam Raimi had a unique vision for his Spider-Man stories, and it looked like Webb was trying way too hard to imitate what had come before, even though his story was a reboot. If you watch all those movies in a row, it feels like the same universe, except the leads are different. That and well, "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies have a much worse quality to them.

That's how I feel when I watched Neill Marshall's "reboot" of "Hellboy." David Harbour looks way too much like Ron Perlman. I don't know if that was intentional. It couldn't be, this is a redo, so how could it be intentional? What's also weird is that Harbour seems to be trying too hard to channel Ron Perlman in his performance. He never takes the steps to make the character his own. Something that actually disappointed me, because Harbour is a great actor. The ritual that brought Hellboy to earth looks so similar to how it does in the first movie, that there is barely a difference. I am also convinced that the B.P.R.D. building from del Toro's franchise was reused in this franchise.

We've seen three different versions of Batman on film so far. In Michael Keaton's movies, Christian Bale's movies, and Ben Affleck's movie, even though the origin of Batman is the same, they all feel different. There is very little that separates this new Hellboy from the old, so why even reboot? Its like they don't even want to try. I wish this wasn't my only complaint though. The special effects on display are rancid, just terrible. Milla Jovovich is a beautiful woman, and she's given some memorable performances, but sometimes she can lose it. This is a time when she lost it, and I never thought she was a very convincing villain. Then there's the plot. My god, my god the plot. It tries to play so closely to what we saw in the 2004 film while also trying to do something different, and it ends up like a messy painting. There is such a tug-of-war going on that I can't believe this even got greenlit.

There was a big opportunity that was missed here, and it makes me sad. You'd think coming off an Oscar win, del Toro would have had the muscle to do what he wanted, to finish his "Hellboy" story. But I guess, sometimes those things don't work out. We are all poorer for it. This new "Hellboy" will not become a cult classic, del Toro's movies will. This will hit the bargain bin at Wal-Mart the second its released on bluray.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

First Look at Disney+ The Mandalorian

Star Wars Celebration came and passed and I think the most exciting thing that was announced was "The Mandalorian." This is the first live-action Star Wars television series. It is being show run by "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau. There was a first look at the series at the Celebration and somebody successfully bootlegged a little trailer/behind-the-scenes clip of the show. This show will premiere on Disney+ at some point during the first year of the launch, and is just another good reason why the Disney streaming service probably won't fail. I love that Pedro Pascal is the lead, he will be playing a brand new character, and I can't wait to meet him.

Oh and Taika Waititi is directing one of the episodes? Holy shit, I can't wait!

Review: Netflix continues to rip off "A Quiet Place" with "The Silence"

The Silence Review

Netflix released "Bird Box" at the tail-end of last year, and while it certainly made some kind of mark on popular culture at the time, it has certainly faded. I remember it being a kind of rip-off of the much superior "A Quiet Place." Instead of a world where you can't talk, "Bird Box" was about a world where you can't open your eyes. Oooh! Now in 2019, Netflix has made their own world without sound. It is called "The Silence." Oooh! Real original. I don't know what John Krasinski thought would happen when he made "A Quiet Place," but I bet he would have never guessed that Netflix would be ripping him off left and right.

"The Silence" begins with a bunch of scientist types walking through an old tomb. Of course, in movies like this, scientists are never as smart as they are in real life. Sometimes that can lead to some dumb fun. Other times it can lead to some mind-numbing atrocity. I'll let you decide as you read this review where "The Silence" lies. As these scientist types continue to search through the tomb, they release a species of bat-like creatures thought to be extinct. They viciously kill the people then fly into the night. Then we get an oh-so-familiar opening title sequence, feeling like every other Netflix Original.

Then we meet Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka) a teenager who recently became deaf from an accident. She has to deal with bullies, but she's trying to make the best of the bad situation. She's got a loving family and a loving boyfriend. Stanley Tucci plays her father, Hugh and Miranda Otto plays her mother, Kelly. The Andrews also care for Kelly's mom, Lynn (Kate Trotter). This family is living out their life in harmony when they are awoken after 3am to news reports. Seems like something awful is attacking major cities all over the United States. They are being told to stay in their homes and stay silent. So of course, the family doesn't stay put. They try to travel to find a safer place with Hugh's best friend, Glenn (John Corbett). Why they decide to leave the comfort of their homes to find somewhere safer is beyond me.

They eventually find a house, a woman lives there. She is nothing but a red shirt though. What's also mind-boggling is as this poor woman is getting killed by the vesps, the bat-like creatures that got released, the Andrews family never steps in to help her. She just ends up dying, then the family defends themselves. There are so many decisions made in this movie that boggled my mind that it took me out of the movie several times.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg for "The Silence." Stanley Tucci is clearly on auto-pilot, its almost like he knows he's in a bad movie. The movie works like a checklist of all the things we are supposed to see in a movie like this, but its just that, a checklist. It doesn't illuminate its cliches in any real way, or hell even in an entertaining way. Its Kiernan Shipka who is the main star here, and she does what she can. She does the deaf moments of her character fine. It's just that she doesn't really have a character to play. She's a type. Like I said, she's fine, this whole thing would have probably been better if these actors had actual characters to play.

There are also some bad guys. Because of course there are. In an apocalyptic future, there is a leader of a religious cult, who have all cut their tongues out to protect them from the vesps. They want the Andrews family to join them, but Hugh doesn't want to. So the leader of this group, played creepily by Brian MacLellan, tries to attack the Andrews family. He talks about the possible fertility of Ally. Because of course he does. It wouldn't be an apocalyptic future movie without a creepy bad guy trying to rape the best-looking young actress in the movie. But thankfully, that doesn't happen. When the best thing about a movie is that nobody got raped, then something has gone terribly wrong.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Star Wars 9 trailer

The Episode 9 trailer is here.

The title has been revealed...

Get ready for "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker!"

I wish I was making this up, but I am not.

Its a pretty quick teaser. Not many plot details revealed. We get a nice scene of Rey doing some cool Jedi stuff over what I presume is a Luke voiceover. It was nice to see Lando again. There is something about Luke's voiceover though. "Nobody is really gone." So that means Luke Force ghost, yes.

The movie is called Rise of Skywalker, so that means Kylo lied to Rey, right? Shes related to the family somehow right? Or does Kylo redeem himself? Thats a little too familiar.

That laugh at the end? That's Palpatine, yes? So, what are we thinking? Force ghost? Clone?

Look, I will see this just to see how they wrap things up, but "The Last Jedi" has certainly tempered my feelings about this. I don't care how much money these things have made. I don't care what the fanboys say, Disney messed up. They did. This could have been a golden goose for years but they burned it down. The fallout from The Last Jedi made "Solo" a box office disappointment. There is a reason that Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the movies are going on hiatus after episode nine. There is a reason why the anthology movies have stopped altogether. Disney messed this thing up a bit. I can only hope that JJ Abrams can stick some kind of landing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Lion King Trailer

There are plenty of people who don't care about these Disney live action remakes. I get that, it seems pretty shameless to just remake their classics for new generations with no cartooning going on. Disney just isn't trying at this point, they could basically count as a United States mint. But I have to be honest, some these live action movies have worked for me. I love "The Jungle Book" from 2016. Jon Favreau made that and he made this too, which makes me more interested than I probably would be.

This looks absolutely majestic. I know I'm not looking at real animals, but dear god, it LOOKS like I am looking at real animals. I love it, I'll be there!

Review: "Unicorn Store" is a statement by Brie Larson

Unicorn Store Review
"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans"

That's a quote my brother says all the time, he's said it a few times throughout life. I never quite felt the sting of that quote until recently. If you asked me a decade ago, where I'd be today, my answer would not look at all like the life I'm living right now. Sure, there are those who have their heart set on goals, and they achieve those goals. But some people have bad luck, or obstacles arise that you didn't see coming, or things just simply change. A combination of those three things kind of happened to me. But you know what? The life I am living right now is much better than I could ever imagine. I have a great wife and I have an adorable little daughter and those things are my main sources of happiness. Sometimes your goals change too, and I have different priorities now, so I am not sure I have failed yet.

Brie Larson plays Kit in "Unicorn Store," a movie she also happened to direct as well. Kit from the moment she was born was seemingly obsessed with unicorns. You know when your child and your imagination runs wild 24 hours a day and seven days a week? When I was five-years-old, I totally thought I could pull off being Batman. Of course my parents laughed, but I was totally serious. Kit obsessions forced her to want to take care of unicorns when she got older. But as she got older and older, that dream never went away. So much so, that now that she's almost 30, she's still obsessed with them. 

When we initially meet Kit, she's trying to make as an artist, but her taste is a little too...shall we say..girly. Because she's such a unicorn fan, they are front and center in all of her creations. She over-indulges with bright colors and glitter and it doesn't work for her in todays art scene. She goes home disappointed. It doesn't help that she has overbearing parents, who want her to get a job and have a normal life. But what is normal? How can we all have a normal. If everybody has different wants and needs, and hell people are just different in general, how do you define normal? But she eventually tries to plant her feet in a "big girl job."

Eventually she gets invited to meet The Salesman. He is played by the always wonderful Samuel L. Jackson. Its a typical out-of-left-field performance by Jackson and of course he nails it. He convinces Kit that he can get her a unicorn to take care of, but she has to complete certain tasks. She has to create a stable for it and a slew of other tasks. She goes for it, this is everything she's ever wanted. So what if it doesn't make sense, she's going to go for it. That's the big meaning of the movie, to follow your dreams. No matter what people say, complete your dreams. Also, be you. No matter what. Let your freak flag fly, who cares what anybody thinks.

The movie plays a fun game of keeping up the "is she really going to get a unicorn game." For a directorial debute, Larson may be up to something here. "Unicorn Store" is definitely more style than substance, but its a charming little film. It's got a solid cast also featuring Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford and Hamish Linklater. It took a few years to finally be picked up by Netflix. I don't know the story, but perhaps there is an underlying metaphor there. Keep your dreams up, even much later, they can still come true.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Addams Family Trailer

"The Addams Family" was a show that was way before my time.

While I have some vague memories of watching re-runs of the old, black-and-white show. My memory is just that, vague. Of course the iconic musical number that opens the show is the biggest thing I remember from it. The theme song was featured on a kid-friendly Halloween CD that I played every October when I was a daycare center teacher. I often found that funny. If was pretty unfamiliar with the show, how will four-year-old's know what it is?

I also have very vague memories of the 1990's movie with Christina Ricci and Anjelica Houstan. I am by no means a Addams Family expert, I admit it. So I guess that's why I am more open-minded about this animated version. They've got a great cast for voices, and it looks fun. What do my Addams Family experts think?