Hellboy (2019)

Director: Neil Marshall

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

Screenplay: Andrew Cosby

120 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language.

 

So when it was announced that the next Hellboy film would not be a follow-up to the tremendous first two films with Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman, I was initially upset, but I let it pass because it seemed like there was nothing that could be done about it. I got more excited about the prospect of a reboot when David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, TV’s Stranger Things) was cast as the new Hellboy and Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Tales of Halloween) would be directing. It all seemed like it was coming together rather nicely, and I even liked the vibe of the trailers. It appeared that everything was going to come out all right for this new iteration of Hellboy. Then, I saw it.

Back during the Dark Ages, the evil Blood Queen Vivian Nimue (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, Future World) unleashed a plague of death and destruction until she was stopped, dismembered, and buried by King Arthur and his knights. Now, in present day, the Baba Yaga is attempting to bring Nimue back to life. It’s up to the B.P.R.D. and its demonic agent, Hellboy, to stop Nimue once and for all. But what if Hellboy is exactly what the Blood Queen wants?

Hellboy is, at times, almost nonsensical. There’s a lot of mythology and story jammed into this movie, and just about none of it is entertaining at all. Characters do things to drive the plot without any real reason for any of it. They just do things. Things just happen. Characters provide exposition that drags on and on. What angers me the most is that the film is bad and forgettable and oh so boring. It’s disappointing because this is what we got instead of a true sequel to a good franchise. I know I don’t like to compare films to each other, but this was such a major step down from what fans wanted.

On the plus side, I liked David Harbour’s work as Hellboy. He plays him very differently than I expected, with Hellboy having an existential crisis about his place in the world, and for that part, he works quite well. His Hellboy is one struggling to find good within his inherently evil framework. It’s a sad and solitary journey. I also thought Jovovich did a good job as the Blood Queen, but her character is written so one-note that it’s hard to find anything identifiable with her villainous persona outside of I’M A VILLAIN AND I DO VILLAIN THINGS.

It’s obvious that screenwriter Andrew Cosby is most well-known for TV’s Eureka because this feels like a pilot to a series instead of a full beginning-middle-end movie. Everything in the film is a setup for what comes next. Hell, I wrote in my social media review that the post-credits scenes are better than the move that preceded them. The film ends on a note that says “Won’t the sequel be fun, right?” instead of just giving that film here. Del Toro did a great job setting up the Hellboy origin story in his films, and Marshall’s film runs through it pretty quick, so we don’t need all this setup for a better sequel we will likely not see.

Hellboy’s production was littered with rumors of behind-the-scenes problems, so it’s no surprise the film is littered with story-problems and pacing issues. I can’t believe how bored I was with this movie. I thought if there was one positive I would leave the theater with, it would at least be a fun movie. It was not a fun movie. Leave this one dead and buried and get me Guillermo del Toro.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of the anthology film Tales of Halloween, click here.

[Harry Potter Day] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman, Colin Farrell

Screenplay: J.K. Rowling

133 mins. Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Costume Design
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Production Design

 

Today, to honor the 19th Anniversary of The Battle of Hogwarts, we look back at the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film that exists in the Wizarding World Cinematic Universe (yep, that happened) but takes place decades before Harry Potter was even born.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything, Jupiter Ascending) has arrived in 1926 New York with a mysterious case full of amazing and exotic creatures, but when a tiny mix-up with aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler, TV’s Secrets and Lies, Kung Fu Panda) causes several of his fantastic beasts to be released upon the No-Maj (America’s term for Muggles) society. Now, it is up to Newt, Kowalski, and ex-auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs) to retrieve the missing creatures before they are discovered by the non-magical citizens of New York City.

There are many things to love about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I have to start with the performances. Eddie Redmayne absolutely disappears within his role as Newt and becomes the magi-zoologist with apparent ease, and his foil in Kowalski is expertly lovable and comedic due to Fogler’s performance. I was also blown away by Ezra Miller’s (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Suicide Squad) work as Credence Barebone, the adopted son of a religious zealot being manipulated by the sinister Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell, Phone Booth, Solace). There’s also some nice supporting work from Samantha Morton (TV’s Harlots, John Carter), Jon Voight (TV’s Ray Donovan, Mission: Impossible), and Ron Perlman (TV’s Hand of God, Hellboy).

The collaboration between screenwriter J.K. Rowling and director David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan, The Girl in the Café), who has now directed five films in this franchise, is electric to say the least. Yates has an understanding of how to treat the fans, and Rowling’s decision to use creatures hinted at in the books and previous films to further enhance the experience is something to dazzle at. For me, getting to see an actual Bowtruckle and Nifler, two creatures mentioned in novels but never put to film, was very exciting.

I also would like to point out the excellent score in the film, courtesy of James Newton Howard. Howard is one of my favorite working film composers, and his work here is some of his best. When you compare the score of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to, say, something like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it is clear to see where one score outdid the other. Howard’s music entices us with callbacks to the original music, and when it does, it’s pitch perfect, but at the same time, he creates a plethora of new music to further guide this franchise into the future.

As for issues, I felt like the New Salem Philanthropic Society felt a little rushed in their exposition. I would like to know more about them but they don’t get the full exposition needed to really consider them a threat. The same thing with Jon Voight’s character, Henry Shaw, and the secondary plot thread with him doesn’t really go anywhere. Finally, as for the twist (if you can call it that), it’s a little easy to spot, and I feel like there was a better way to do what was done at the end of the film. Thankfully, these problems only affect secondary characters and our main characters are more or less unaffected by them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an exquisite and sophisticated return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Thanks to some clever callbacks to creatures and major plot points of the franchise like the Deathly Hallows, the film feels new but also honors what came before. It’s a clever film that will have something for everyone, as long as they are a Harry Potter fan. I don’t think this new entry will win over any new fans, but anyone who has taken the ride this long shouldn’t have any trouble going around again.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Chris Columbus’ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, click here.

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