Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Hellboy (2019)

Image is property of Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment and Millennium Media

Hellboy – Film Review

Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church

Director: Neil Marshall

Synopsis: When an Ancient evil sorceress seeks to establish a dark and terrible dominion over humanity, the task of stopping her falls to the one and only Hellboy…

Review: Reboots are all the rage in Hollywood these days, but when any effort is made to reboot a franchise, it can be a very tricky minefield to negotiate. If done right, there’s potential to win an army of new fans to a franchise. On the other hand, when done badly, it serves as a painful reminder to why sometimes a reboot should never have come to fruition, and instead should have stayed in (development) hell where it belongs.

Having been previously brought to the screen on two occasions by Guillermo del Toro, the opportunity for the visionary director to complete his trilogy never materialised. As a result, we now have a new iteration of the half man, half demon, with David Harbour stepping into the horns, vacated by Ron Perlman. We find ourselves in present day with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) under the stewardship of Professor Bruttenholm (McShane) who, along with Hellboy find themselves in the middle of a supernatural war. The villainous Blood Queen (Jovovich) seeks to subject humanity to the darkness under her tyrannical rule, and of course, the task of stepping up and taking her down, falls to our Demon friend.

“Not even a gun this big can save this shitshow!”

By far and away, the saving (of sorts) grace of this film is David Harbour’s take on Hellboy. He tries his best, through all his red make-up, to be charismatic and humorous. It’s just a shame then than that the film surrounding him is just a complete catastrophe. From the get go, the screenplay is shambolic, with seemingly no thought whatsoever given to structuring it in a coherent manner. We’re introduced to this supernatural conflict, via some exposition of the quite vulgar variety. From there, the plot just zips along from scene to scene with no time to actually work out what is even happening and why. Furthermore, for the overwhelming majority of the dialogue, the delivery is completely atrocious. The writers seemed to have been playing a game of how many times can we say the word “fuck”, with no nuance, or any particular reason why. It becomes very tiresome very quickly, and this is all within the first act of the film!

Harbour’s performance is the best of a very bad bunch, which is frustrating because there are actors here who have proven themselves to be better than this diabolical material, but when the screenplay is this atrocious, that doesn’t help matters. For instance, Ian McShane has proven himself capable in franchises like John Wick, here you can just tell how much he is phoning it in, likewise for Milla Jovovich’s villain who’s as generic as they come, and there’s a monstrous villain with a Liverpudlian accent. It all just makes no sense whatsoever and defies logic how all of it got approved in the first place. Sasha Lane is another talented actor who has proven her talents in other projects. There is intrigue to her character, but when the execution is just so extremely sloppy across the board and there’s next to no development to these characters, you don’t give a salty shit whether they live or die.

There’s various different ways that violence in films can be accomplished, you can go for the aesthetic route (see the works of Quentin Tarantino) or you could do what the filmmakers here do and go horror film-esque gore, with copious amounts of blood and limbs getting severed left, right and centre. They seemingly making the decision to see just how many people they can kill in two hours and in the most gruesome fashions. It’s just gratuitous and serves no purpose to the advancement of the story, and neither does some of the abysmal CGI. Extremely choppy editing, and the action scenes are migraine inducing, which given Neil Marshall’s portfolio, including two masterfully directed episodes of Game of Thrones, leaves so much to be desired.

Everything about this film should serve as a strong reminder studios that if you’re going to take on a reboot, make sure that you do it right, because otherwise the world is going to be filled with more grotesque abominations like this. For fans of this character, there’s always del Toro’s films to fall back on, and based on this monstrosity, it’s a hell of shame that he was never given the chance to complete his trilogy.

 A dreadful, incoherent screenplay combined with ridiculously excessive violence, ensures that this reboot is a mess of satanic proportions that belongs in the deepest depths of cinematic Hell.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Shape of Water (2018)

Image is property of Fox Searchlight Pictures and TSG Entertainment

The Shape of Water – Film Review

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Synopsis: In the middle of the Cold War, a mute woman working at a top secret research facility develops a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that has been brought in for testing.

Review: Hollywood is certainly no stranger to stories about love, but when you have a director like Guillermo del Toro, here’s a filmmaker who’s certainly no stranger to making a couple of films about some intriguing creatures. Hence, to merge these together for a film with themes of love and acceptance at its core, and fuse these with some fantasy elements, it’s a unique mishmash of genres, the latter of which is right up del Toro’s alley. It’s most definitely bold film-making, but it also happens to be exquisite and beautiful film-making at the same time.

Set in Cold War 1960s USA, Elisa (Hawkins) is a mute woman working at a top secret research facility as a cleaner. She goes about her shift as normal with close friend and co-worker Zelda (Spencer). Their job is very unremarkable, about as mundane as it gets. This is until the arrival of an extremely rare amphibian creature that has been brought in to give the USA an advantage in the Cold War arms race changes everything for Elisa as she forms a very close relationship with the creature.

Love at first sight

To have a leading role in a film and be a mute requires an actor to have extraordinary ability, and thankfully Sally Hawkins has that in abundance as she delivers a truly  remarkable performance. Without saying a word she manages to convey the trauma that her past has clearly inflicted on her. Yet through it all she shows such raw and powerful emotion, about her life and her feelings for those around her, which is an extraordinary accomplishment.  The way that del Toro builds the relationship with his leading lady and the creature (portrayed by GDT regular Doug Jones) is beautiful to watch and to do so without either character uttering a word is all the more remarkable. It serves as a timely reminder that love is such a powerful emotion that it transcends anything, be it disability, gender, race, religion.

Alongside Hawkins, Octavia Spencer provides excellent support as Elisa’s best friend and who also serves as her sign language translator. Likewise for Richard Jenkins as Elisa’s roommate who’s desperately trying to get back on the scene as an artist, who also has his own set of problems that he’s trying to fight. The two of them give Elisa the support she needs as she tries to build her romance with the creature. On the opposite side of that coin comes Michael Shannon’s Strickland, who definitely does not share the emotional connection that Elisa has for the creature. It’s a similar role for Shannon, this no nonsense mean-spirited bad guy, but he does it so well it’s undeniably intriguing to watch.

The work done by the make up team to create the creature is once again absolutely extraordinary, and with some absolutely mesmerising production design and cinematography. The film looks immaculately beautiful, which works to reflect the incredibly heartfelt and touching story that del Toro brings to the screen, which is boosted by an immaculate score provided by Alexandre Desplat. Not everything that you see on screen is pretty mind you, what with it being set in the Cold War, there’s a fair few agendas flying around.

The central themes that this film champions remain as relevant today as they did over half a century ago.  Pitching this film was probably not the easiest film to have been given the green light, but when you have a director like del Toro on board you’ve got enormous potential for greatness, and this is his drenched masterpiece.

A beautiful blend of genres results in a touching and powerful story, soaked with gorgeous visuals and an absolutely stunning turn from Hawkins, this is cinema at its most majestic and magical.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Pacific Rim (2013)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment
Image is property of Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment

Pacific Rim – Film Review 

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman,

DirectorGuillermo Del Toro

Synopsis: When a portal opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and huge alien monsters called Kaiju begin to attack human cities and wipe out thousands of lives. The leaders of the human race pit their resources together and construct huge robotic machines known as Jaegers in order to prevent the oncoming apocalypse

Review:  When the notion of a film’s plot line consists of big robots taking on huge alien monsters , it is a plot line that sounds strangely familiar and one that has been done to death. The likes of Godzilla and Transformers come to mind. However, under the guidance of the visually brilliant Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is a fantastic blend of the two and is a terrific and thrilling ride.

The film sets the scene with a prologue in which these frightening Kaiju creatures have destroyed plenty of cities and slaughtered lives across the world. Humanity’s last line of defence against these creatures is the Jaeger program, headed by Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who seeks the help of Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) to come out of retirement and pilot one of these machines.

The acting on show here is of a decent order with Charlie Hunnam proving to be a strong willed and determined protagonist. Alongside him we have Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a young and untested Jaeger pilot who is keen to prove herself to Marshal Penetecost. The two form a solid relationship as the film progresses and their relationship is a crucial element to the story as they must work together to build a solid neural link together to ensure humanity does not reach its doom at the hands of the Kaiju. Idris Elba is as awesome as he always is in everything he’s in and you can see the fuel in him that drives him to lead the ship through the difficult storm of mayhem and destruction that the Kaiju are bringing to the people of Earth. This desire is apparent within all of the leading characters and through it it drives the story forward.

On the other hand, the apocalyptic mood of the film is counteracted by the humour of the two scientists in the film with Dr Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Dr Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) who whenever they are on screen always seem to be bickering and squabbling with one another as to how to best defeat the monstrous invaders. Their rivalry and differences of opinion is fun to watch but deep down their desire to ensure humanity’s survival is apparent within both of them.

While the relationship between the three leading characters is central to the story, the fight scenes on show are of monstrous proportions. The size of both the Kaiju and the Jaeger takes your breath away and you watch with glee and suspense as these two titanic monsters go head to head in jaw dropping and exhilarating fight scenes that are among the best that we have seen in this year’s selection of films. Cars get crushed and buildings are reduced to rubble as these great beasts do battle against these great machines of war.  An Oscar nomination for Best Special effects could definitely come Pacific Rim’s way next year.

Thus with interesting characters and some thrilling action sequences, Pacific Rim is certainly a fantastic adventure that gets the adrenaline pumping and leaves the viewer excited and wanting more. Combined with great action sequences and some interesting characters Pacific Rim is certainly one of the finest films that emerged from the Summer Movie season of 2013.

You come for Transformers VS Godzilla essentially and that is precisely what del Toro gives you, and it is nothing but damn good fun.

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