random movie reviewing: Hellboy II, the Dark Knight

so during my brief vacation from myself (or, at least, my vacation from being sober and working and not buying guns), i did manage to fit in a viewing of two summer films that a) i have been waiting to see for some time and b) didn’t suck as bad as that fourth Indiana Jones fiasco: Hellboy II and the Dark Knight. there may have been mention of these plans in a previous update. ANYWAY, now that i have seen them, it’s time for some reviewing of said films!

Hellboy II: the Golden Army

Hellboy II
“don’t mess with me, lady. i’ve been drinking with skeletons.”

ah, sweet Hellboy, everyone’s favorite well-meaning demon who loves pancakes and dog-related shenanigans (as a youth, anyway), you’ve got a sequel for me! given that Revolution Studios folded and Sony passed on the sequel, i suppose i DO owe Universal a debt of gratitude for stepping up and making this film happen (though they undoubtedly have green lit a remake or something else that pisses me off, it’s the nature of the beast). and since i do want another sequel featuring Bruce Campbell as Lobster Johnson (a phrase that should need no explanation to be noted as containing awesomeness), i need you losers to step up and throw your money after mine into Universal’s pockets.

direction (Guillermo del Toro)
i have been describing this film as “(Hellboy)x(Pan’s Labyrinth)” because it’s clear that del Toro went totally berserk with the fantasy and the faeries and everything here, so if you liked the look of that film, previous Hellboy aside, you should go nuts for this one. and this was all with the blessing of Mignola, of course, so fanboy cries should be muted here. anyway, i don’t want to be totally redundant here, but del Toro is Spanish for “excellent direction, with just a touch of weird character design.”

acting (starring Ron Pearlman and Selma Blair, i guess, star power is muted here)
–Pearlman remains the best choice ever for Hellboy, though, in fairness, this is mostly because he doesn’t require makeup to play roles like “a devil” and “a caveman” and “whatever space mutant he was supposed to be in Alien: Resurrection, because he certainly doesn’t look like a human.”
–it’s interesting that they let Doug Jones take over the voice work for Abe, but he’s solid (it can’t be the easiest thing in the world to act covered in all that plastic), though his voice will never be as classy as that of David Hyde Pierce.
–so is Blair, who’s much improved with a shorter haircut, though i don’t know how much i love the different Hellboy-Liz dynamic of the movies.
–Seth MacFarlane did make me avoid my vow to attack him by NOT saying “what the deuce” and, instead, turning in a good vocal performance. it strikes me that he can probably do this kind of thing when people aren’t being overly indulgent with him because he’s behind a funny program.
–Jeffrey Tambor overacts a little bit, but to be fair, i sort of get the impression he was asked to do so. calling his work here reminiscent of his George Bluth role seems accurate.
–the people playing the elves (Luke Goss and Anna Walton) looked like elves. that’s all i have to say. i don’t get emotionally invested in elves, that’s all. Legolas never meant shit to me!

other thoughts
–that ogre has a hilarious ogre name (“Wink”) and his mechanical goblin hand is pretty fucking cool. so that was nice. and the Golden Army’s look and sweet robots-of-doom action was awesome.
–i’m on the fence in regards to the design of the Angel of Death: solid look, but Doug Jones plays it almost like he’s still wearing the faun suit from Pan’s Labyrinth, which isn’t bad, just distinctive.
–oh, and since when did the Pyramid Head from Silent Hill get a job duplicating himself and guarding an elf king?
–also, if i’m going to get new characters (Johann Krauss), how about we get a little Roger the Homunculus?

as some have stated, there’s a little bit too much of the MIB feel to the BPRD sequences early in the film; in the end, you know, i like Mignola’s darker comic version of Hellboy better than the lighter del Toro version… but i still like them both and del Toro’s a good guy, so who cares. but i better get some fucking Lobster Johnson action in the next few years, that’s all i am saying.

the Dark Knight

the Dark Knight
“do i really look like a man with a plan? i don’t have a plan. you know what i am? i’m a dog chasing cars. i wouldn’t know what to do if i caught one. i just DO things.”

all i can say is that this movie really walks a fine line between being so good that you can’t praise it enough and so good that you start to over-hype the film by being the 13000th person to say “the Dark Knight was fucking incredible.” now, granted, it is not, as iMDB’s top movies would tell you, the Best Movie Ever (goddamn motherfucking FANBOYS); it’s certainly not better than Citizen Kane and the Godfather Part II and all of that jazz… but it is fucking fantastic. and it’s probably the best superhero movie there is.

direction (Christopher Nolan)
i can’t thank Nolan enough for saving us from both the depths of Schumacher’s Batman films (i am actually willing to go to bat for Batman Returns to some extent, but that’s where i draw the line, because the following two were just CRIMINAL) as well as from Aronofsky’s insane Batman schemes (for example, he wanted a homeless Batman). and he puts in good work here. i know some people who have beef with the way he lights shots and directs some of the fight sequences, but frankly, i consider those problems to be overrated or non-existent.

acting (starring Christian Bale and a collection of non-Welsh mortals and one dead guy)
–Bale is, of course, the best Batman to date; i don’t mind his Batman voice because isn’t the point to prevent people from noticing that Batman sounds like Bruce Wayne? as always, he’s better than Keaton because he appears to be large enough to actually beat someone up.
–Heath Ledger makes for an excellent Joker (again, we run the risk of the over-hyping here) and, frankly, i miss the guy already, his former starring role in A Knight’s Tale notwithstanding. i’m not sure how impressed i am with some supposed aspects of the role – the “accentless accent” or whatever is supposed to seem extra creepy, but frankly, it’s the crazy shit he SAYS that makes him creepy – but any minor things like that pale in comparison to the overall energy and affect of the role. making pencils disappear? awesome.
–Aaron Eckhart makes for a good Harvey Dent, easily bridging the gap between zealous righteousness and coin-flipping insanity (that might be a spoiler, i guess, but i think we all know who ends up as Two-Face; it’s not the destination that matters, but the ride there), though, despite Skip Bayless’ retardation, he’s not out-acting Heath Ledger.
–Maggie Gyllenhaal does a competent job in a role that a) doesn’t matter much and b) was basically ruined for all of us by Katie Holmes’ “acting.” i wouldn’t say she reclaimed the role because there wasn’t anything there to reclaim, really, but she does solid work. and for those of you that find her less physically objectionable than Katie Holmes, this film can remind you to go perv it up and rent Secretary some time.
–Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine is Michael Caine, so it’s not like they’re going to disappoint, but between the two of them, Caine gets the better one-liners and everything. i suppose that’s a given though, since Alfred’s supposed to be secretly awesome and hilarious.
–the secret guy acting his ass off is, of course, Gary Oldman, who’s yet another actor with a stellar career packaged in here but who ALSO gets overlooked to some extent because of newer and/or flashier roles in the film. but hey, way to be overshadowed by a dead guy, Oldman.

other thoughts
–the best shot of this film, if you ask me, is the Joker driving around with his head out the window, shaking his head in a satisfied, dog-like fashion. it just captures that child-meets-psycho character.
–so i don’t like that the World’s Greatest Detective talks about putting bullets into a “clip.” he’s the World’s Greatest Detective! he should call it a magazine, in accordance with the proper terminology!
–now, since i have been annoyed with Cillian Murphy for not appearing in 28 Weeks Later (and thus damning that film to its garbage state), i must state that it’s awesome that he pops in here for about 13 seconds for a little Scarecrow action. though i am sure he got well-paid for that and all that.

uh… i would consider seeing this movie if i were you. i’m just sayin’.

but wait… there’s more:

unrelated topic: Watchmen

“was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. was rorshach.”

so there was this Watchmen trailer before the film that was alternately awesome (Rorshach and the Comedian will ALWAYS be awesome) and awkward-looking (the Silk Spectre II and Ozymandias just seem odd, and Dr. Manhattan won’t seem right to me until i see him in action). i’m torn between being optimistic because the cast seems good and the director (Zack Snyder) is solid and being negative because it’s based on an incredibly good but very dense comic that CANNOT be forced into a single film. and yeah, it doesn’t NEED, say, the pirate comic book subplot to work, but it seems like when you start dropping things… anyway, if they give me Rorshach and the Comedian, i’m good, and they DID actually cast a tiny little guy for the former, and the trailer line “the world will look up and shout ‘save us!’ … and i’ll whisper ‘no'” is just awesome. so we’ll see!

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One Response to random movie reviewing: Hellboy II, the Dark Knight

  1. Duane Toole says:

    Great reviews. I saw The Dark Knight last week; first movie I’ve bothered with in the theater in a couple of months.

    One thing that bothered me a bit was how obvious it was that Gotham City was Chicago. I think they could have left out the Board of Trade Building; anyone who knows Chicago recognized that.

    That said, I just can’t find anything bad to say bout the film; I loved it. The action was well thought out. There were constant plot switches to keep you interested. The acting was superb. The closing was NOT long, like a few reviewers have suggested; it left me with a sense of closing, but with hope for a sequel. Fantastic film.

    On a side note, you may have heard that Freeman was in an accident Sunday night. He’s still in the hospital (in Memphis) as of today (August 5). Please consider sending him a note at this address:

    Morgan Freeman
    P.O. Box 0650
    Charleston, MS 38921-0650

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