A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 3 – Hellboy: Sword of Storms (animated feature)

Hellboy: Sword of Storms – March 3, 2010

This is the first viewing for me that I haven’t seen before. Andy’s only seen half of this one too, so it’s largely new for us both. Yay new! This is the first of two animated features which I’m told were released in between the movies. But I have some issues with the timeline placement. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I’ve got to say is that I’m not really liking what they’ve done with Liz’s look. And her in general. I mean, she kicks some ass right from the get-go and she’s an active part of the movie, but they seem to have either aged her down quite a bit or this is set before the first movie. Either way, she seems to be younger in this than she is in the live action movies. She’s got long-but-well-kept hair and she’s got a nose stud. Hellboy gives her a hug and calls her ‘kiddo’. And she’s on about how she has no control and should be locked up and she actually says “I’m the real monster” to Hellboy and Abe. Who are then appropriately amused. If she’s not supposed to be at least a couple of years younger than she is in the live action films, her teen angst is more than I’m willing to grant her. But then, her powers are handled oddly in relation to the live action version. She can aim. She blanks out when she’s doing her pyro routine at the beginning, but not at the end. So she’s going through a character arc that she goes through in the first live action film. Eh.

All things considered, if I take this as a prequel or a slightly different universe than the live action movies, it’s pretty good. And I’ll run with that. I think what’s throwing me off is the target demo for this. It feels a lot like X-Men: Evolution in some ways, so that makes me think it’s aiming somewhat young. But it’s Hellboy. So, yeah. Weird. And now that I’m thinking about it, Liz in this is totally giving me an Evolution Rogue vibe.

That being said, the interactions between the characters felt right (again, taking into consideration Liz being younger) and there was a lot of the same humor that the live action films have. I could have done without the comic relief and one oddly self-aware line about being in a cartoon, but the writing was fun overall and the adventure was a good one. I especially liked a bit in one of the Bureau control rooms where the various agents present discuss how frequently Hellboy disappears off their grid and where he’s ended up in the past. So very matter-of-fact in the same way Liz accepts in the first movie when she returns “home” and Abe comments that “it’s Friday” in the second movie while walking with Manning. I get the feeling these folks aren’t too fazed by tentacles.

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March 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

March 3, 2010

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

Here we have one of two animated Hellboy features that we own.  They came out in 2006 and 2007 so right between the two movies.  They both feature the cast of the movies reprising their roles, with Doug Jones performing as Abe – which was odd at the time since his voice wasn’t in the first movie.  It would be like having the voice of Ray Park in one of the Star Wars animated features as Darth Maul.  Slightly non-sensical.

I absolutely LOVE the art style of these movies.  Hellboy, for example, has his stubby little goat legs from the comic books, which I always loved because they made his big old barrel chest seem more brutal by comparison.  My one quibble would be Liz’s nose ring.  It’s like some focus group figured it would make her more edgy and cool for the kids today.  The animation is saturday morning cartoon level.  It never really wows you but it gets the job done.  At several moments, however, particularly with Hellboy’s many fights, there are still frames that look as though they could be almost from the comic books.  I like that.

This film has Hellboy on a mystical quest through Japanese folklore trying to stop the unleashing of dragons that are prevented from destroying the world because a couple demons are trapped in a magic sword.  Or something like that.  Really it’s just a mishmash of classic Japanese fairy stories.  Oh, and a spirit guide in the form of a fox.  I was disappointed every time the fox talked that it didn’t sound like Johnny Cash.  (Yes, I realize that was a coyote.. just saying.)

It is a lot of fun to see a simple story of the BPRD crew stopping the end of the world as we know it with brute force and a laconic wit.  With none of the deeper maundering or meaning that bogged down the second film.  And you do get the impression that this is really just another day at the office for these people.  I look forward to seeing how they save the world tomorrow.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

March 2, 2010

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I love Professor Broom’s choice of bedtime reading.  Dark fairy tales of the war between men and the old world of magic and nature.

Which is what Guillermo Del Toro gives us tonight.    Unfettered from the more Lovecraftian and Nazi steampunk inspired world of Mignola he takes Mike’s creations on a new kind of adventure, very heavily influenced by Pan’s Labyrinth.  It’s not really completely a Hellboy movie.  Sure the team is still all there.  Liz is more badass than ever before.  Abe has some great moments (even without his smooth voice) and Ron Perlman IS Hellboy.  Seth McFarland is a great addition as the discorporeal Krauss.  The BPRD redshirts are still names after stones.  (Marble this time instead of Shale.)  But something about this movie doesn’t ring as true as the first one.

It definitely has a deep and important message to it.  Something about consumerism versus nature.  Or learning your place in the world.  Or maybe about accepting responsibility and growing up to be a parent.

That’s part of the problem I suppose.  This movie is trying to be too many things at once, and not really getting it 100% right on any of them.  And it also suffers from “middle movie syndrome” in that it lays some groundwork for and epic reckoning that never takes place.  This is made even more agonizing in light of the fact that there’s no guarantee that there ever will even be a third movie.  (At the time of this writing Del Toro is working on not one but two Hobbit movies so he’ll have no time for Hellboy for at least a few more years.)

My issue is that I really want to love this movie.  It has a lot of fantastic and touching moments.  The old forest god.  Abe and Hellboy and their drunken singing.  The confrontation with the golden army itself.  Heck, I could watch the scene in the troll market any time.. it’s like a visit inside Guillermo’s head and it’s magical and whimsical.  But the film as a whole just doesn’t gel for me.

I truly wish it did.

I really hope there will be a third movie which addresses Liz’s choice to save Hellboy at the expense of the rest of the world.  That sounds pretty powerful.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | 2 Comments

Movie 2 – Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army – March 2, 2010

Following on the heels of Hellboy, we watched Hellboy 2: The Golden Army tonight. Oh hey, look! It’s a parable about the dangers of modernization and industry! Maybe we should do Lord of the Rings tomorrow. But seriously, I do like this movie. We saw it in the theater originally and it hits a few of my buttons in a good/sad way. I’ve got this thing about stories that deal with kingdoms/people/ideas which are past their primes, out of their golden years, and the melancholy that results. Stephen King’s Dark Tower books deal with this a lot and phrase it really well: The world has moved on. Anyhow, the elves in Hellboy 2, as well as the big plant elemental, are excellent examples (and how much do I love the elemental’s blood sprouting greenery where it falls? So much). Their time is in the past and they’re now anachronisms, stuck in a world that’s largely forgotten them. Moved on and past them and left them behind but still stuck railing against the injustice of it.

Much like the first movie, I’ve got to take the mythos the plot is based in with a grain of salt. I know more about Celtic mythology than I do about saints and Rasputin, but I’m nowhere near an expert. I know enough to know that this movie is loosely, not closely, based on the mythology. If I knew the mythology better maybe I’d be more upset over it. I can’t even work up too much annoyance over the gigantic fertility statue.

I did get a little annoyed originally when they pulled out the pregnancy plot for Liz, but she still gets to burn shit and they didn’t just leave her behind to go be big damn heroes, so I can’t get worked up over it. It serves a point in the plot, so, well done there.

So let’s talk about what I like about the movie, because there’s a lot I like. The melancholy and past-time theme is definitely up there on the list. And the elves in general. They’re portrayed in such a sad and somewhat pathetic light, living in sewers, dressing them with dead leaves and dirt. Nuada is right when he scoffs at how far they’ve fallen. I’ve also got to hand it to the makeup artists and people who came up with their visual concept. The twins’ skin has a fantastic birchbark effect that looks both nature-based and antiqued. I like that Abe gets a love interest, even if it’s a doomed romance. I love the fight at the end, but then, I’ve got a thing for sword fights.

I also really like the team they’ve got for this movie. Nicely divided into the four elements, if you give Earth to Hellboy, what with his big stone hand and all. Close enough anyhow. Maybe a bit cliched to some, but I think it suits the movie and the world it’s set in. And it’s an incredibly lush world, even if large portions of it are set in urban areas. Lush is still the best word I can think of for it. So that’s another thing to like. There are layers and layers of details. It’s obvious how much thought was put into the set dressing, and indeed the entire movie. It’s a little overbearing at times (Frankenstein? Really?) but overall it’s a good thing that there’s so much there.

Another fun movie. Tomorrow we move on to one of the animated features.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment