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.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 28 – Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Director: Alexander Witt

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Jared Harris, Mike Epps

Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson

94 mins. Rated R for non-stop violence, language and some nudity.

 

The Resident Evil games are beloved the world over. The movies, not so much. Especially the second film in the series, Apocalypse, which I feel gets a lot of negative attention. I just recently revisited the sequel, and I have a hot take: it’s the best one in the series.

Raccoon City is overrun with the undead. S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, Love Actually, TV’s Fortitude) attempts to find a way out of the city, and she comes across Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, Zoolander 2), last survivor of the Hive, a hidden facility owned and operated by the Umbrella Corporation, the company responsible for the T-Virus which is reanimating the dead. Together, they join Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr, The Mummy Returns, Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants) and others in an attempt to rescue the daughter of Umbrella researcher Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, TV’s The Terror), who claims he can get them out of the city before the Umbrella Corporation puts their quarantine into place.

Apocalypse looks very cheap. That’s the major criticism of the first two films in this series. They just feel very cheap at times. The aging CG has not helped. They’ve become akin to Syfy Original Movies in a lot of ways. The acting from a lot of the supporting cast isn’t up to par here. There’s also the necessity to fall back on video game references that lingers throughout the entire franchise. That being said, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is probably the closest to the feeling of the games that I’ve gotten without forcing it.

First of all, this one takes place during the time frame of the games. Whereas the first film was planned as kind of a prequel to the games and the third film onward kind of forge their own path, Apocalypse is in the meat of the games. Utilizing what I think is the best creature/villain of the franchise in Nemesis helps here, and taking the well-received lickers and zombie dogs from the first film really add to the enjoyment of the film. Apocalypse feels like a Resident Evil game.

There’s also some nice marketing that works as an in-film meta short commercial for an Umbrella product called Regenerate. The commercial was helmed by Marcus Nispel of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th fame. Watching the trailer all these years later still brings me back to the joy I felt in the theater watching it for the first time.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a B-horror movie, but it knows that it is. Much in the same way as The Fast and the Furious franchise, Apocalypse has learned not to take itself overly serious. The goal here is to have fun, just like the video games intend. Jovovich and Guillory are standouts here along with the incredible creature design for Nemesis. This is a simpler film in the franchise that expands the mythology to make way for the crazier shit we’ll see in future installments. I had so much fun watching this again, and I hope you do too.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil, click here.

New Valerian Trailer Showcases Mind-Blowing Spectacle

Well, lots of amazing trailer this week. This morning, I caught a new look at the upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the newest from Luc Besson.

This trailer gave us a bit of scope in terms of who Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are and what drives them in the film. We also get a ton of epic sweeping footage and some interesting space creatures along the way.

What I really liked about the trailer was, for me, a return to what made Luc Besson an incredible visual filmmaker with work like The Fifth Element. I want to return to a film like that, a crazy spectacle action extravaganza, and I think that’s what we’re going to get here.

Faults? Yeah, it felt like the CG wasn’t all entirely finished yet, which may still be fixed, but I’m not sure given that all of Besson’s films are made for lower budgets. I also wasn’t big on Lucy, and there was a slight vibe of that in the trailer.

All in all, I enjoyed the trailer and it did make me more excited to see the film, which opens July 21st.

So what did you think? What’s your favorite Luc Besson film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Lucy (2014)

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Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-Sik, Amr Waked

Screenplay: Luc Besson

89 mins. Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.

 

Lucy, the new film from occasional visionary Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Family) is the tale of a young woman who becomes more than human thanks to an experimental drug and a situation she couldn’t have imagined falling into. Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) is Lucy, who has become a drug carrier to appease her boyfriend. When the drug she is delivering ends up in her bloodstream it awakens her full brain capacity and starts turning her into the Star-Child. You remember Star-Child, right? From 2001: A Space Odyssey? Yeah, well, this movie kind of just rips that off, but don’t worry, there are also bits of Limitless in there, too.

Lucy 2014 Movie HD Wallpapers

Luc Besson’s major fault as a filmmaker is that he comes up with great ideas, but sometimes, he is a bit late to the game, and when he does get there, he can’t always formulate the ideas into a workable piece of art. Not all his films are like that, but it is a trend I am starting to see with the writer-director.

Scarlett Johansson is reduced to playing an unemotional machine by Act II, which depletes all the emotional resonance that she is capable of. Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Dolphin Tale 2) is relegated to reading out of a textbook for the entirety of the film as Professor Norman. Really, the only character I found myself even marginally connecting to by the midpoint of the film is Pierre (Amr Waked, Syriana, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), a cop caught up in Lucy’s mission to ascend to the next plane, and even he isn’t given enough fleshed-out time to really do anything.

The visuals are cool but they feel like they’ve been taken from better films. The screenplay (which took nine years to get off the ground) doesn’t offer anything new to the genre and just sort of falls flat.

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I wanted to like Lucy, but Lucy just didn’t like me back. Near the end, like Johansson’s previous Under the Skin, the film started to win me back, but it was too little too late for me. There are better films that play with these themes, so experience one of them instead.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 6 – Resident Evil (2002)

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Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon

Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson

100 mins. Rated R for strong sci-fi/horror violence, language and sexuality/nudity.

 

I think every video game player in the world has played Resident Evil at some point. My association with it came from Resident Evil 2 for the Playstation. My brother had it, and I would sneak into his room, watch the opening cinematic, and die really quickly before turning off the system and running back into my room before he noticed. I never thought much more of it until I heard that a film version was coming out, on my birthday, no less.

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Resident Evil is, in essence, a prequel to the game series and beginning of a franchise with five films and a sixth on the way. It is the story of Alice (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, Faces in the Crowd), who awakens in a mansion with amnesia. She very quickly finds that not all is even close to what it seems as her home is attacked by several commandos, among them Rain (Michelle Rodriguez, Avatar, Machete Kills). She is taken to an underground facility beneath her “beard” home where, hours earlier, a deadly virus was unleashed on its employees, turning them into the undead. Now, she and another civilian, Matt (Eric Mabius, TV’s Ugly Betty, The Crow: Salvation) must discover the secrets behind the facility known as The Hive and the artificial intelligence known as The Red Queen governing its walls.

It is tough to grade Resident Evil on its merits as a technical film. Movies based on video games have a separate code of ethics to abide by. I wasn’t watching it to be ready for the Academy Awards that year. I was just hoping it didn’t suck. While not being a massively important film, it was an enjoyable and fun ride. The cast was comprised of actors having a lot of fun with the action set pieces, among them series star Jovovich, the only actress to appear in each installment thus far.

We understand that many of these characters will not survive. It is almost a sure thing that Rain won’t, given that she is the female Sean Bean.

Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (Death Race) can definitely create some awesome moments, though, and he crafted his movie as though it were a game. He did the same with the film adaptation of Mortal Kombat. A great writer he is not. A great director he is not. A maker of fun films he is. Almost like Michael Bay, Anderson creates some amazing action but little more. Definitely still leagues ahead of Uwe Boll, Anderson seems more like Ang Lee by comparison.

The score, with assistance by Marilyn Manson, helps further the fact that we are dealing with popcorn and eye candy.

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Resident Evil remains one of the stronger entries of the series, and given the enjoyment I felt while watching, definitely belongs on the list of better video game movies.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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