Saturday, 23 August 2008

Hellboy 2

Hellboy 2 is kind of difficult to write about in an interesting way. For myself, it is easily the best entertainment film released over the past few months, of the blockbusters. Therefore I shall be brief on it as I'm pretty much thinking one thing. That was genius.

Hellboy 2 is better than the original film. It's a Ray Harryhausen-type of movie, with lots of old-school monsters, with fights between weird looking types. It even has room for its villain doing some Errol-Flynn moves. It is made the way movies should be, is what Raiders Of the Lost Ark and Temple Of Doom were, someone good making a film they want to see, throwing in their obsessions all over the place. The creatures are all incredibly imaginative, have great personalities, backgrounds, pathos. The creatures all seem to have a past and stories outside the central narrative. Yet the story is simple. moves from a-b-c without pretence, has a good villain with a point of view and a vicious streak, who will butcher millions to get his way. It continually has throw-away bits of genius that many directors would keep on-screen for half their movie, is epic yet keeps its focus at ground level. I'm not getting specific on the creatures as seeing them appear is part of the enjoyment. Along with speed racer, another financial under-performer, this is one of he more imaginative films in recent years. My complaints are so minor that they barely count. In this film Ron Perlman is a god.

Also watched The Dark Knight again. Was more impressed with the film this time, less critical of flaws, simply watching it as an entertainment, where it works well. Some of the shots were very nicely done (especially burning fire truck and the sequence following), there was a terrific build-up of mood in the film (yet those background city shots and staging still felt off) But certain areas still rankled, although they didn't bug me as much this time. Batman still seemed to be a bit thick. It felt that he was always getting help, always needed the work of others, which seems weak in an action hero (I like Batman to have a brain and independence, to work daring actions for himself, rather than having a gadget master and cops giving him a lot of info). Bale was still not as messed and neurotic, the way batman needs to be, nor does he feel truly damned and self-tortured, which again is Batman. (for me only Michael Keaton managed to get this, plus he did all his own detecting, just to show my obvious grudges). Some of the dialogue still felt like they were stating themes although there was more oddities in behaviour in the delivery than I noticed first time around. Still the end section felt wrong (and not just the awful acting on the boats). I can't quite get Batman taking the rap for Harvey Dent murders. The plot says that if Dent is seen as a killer then all his work is undone. Yet the film has the joker killing so many people. Couldn't they blame him or a few of his thugs for the Dent killings (even the end attack on Gordon's family by Dent could be explained as Joker thugs who got away, as no-one saw anything). After so many dead, who would really notice or care about more. And suggesting batman has gone rogue killer would depress people as much as Dent going nuts. So the end sacrifice for me just isn't set-up to be the only possible way out, in the situation so the conclusion feels like there's Batman not thinking it through. (again, boy does this one make blunders) But the final confrontation between Bats, Gordon and two-face is terrific, when Dent gets sadistic on the Gordon family and goes for an intimate type of revenge. Its always great when a villain really goes too far.

To sum it up, it's no Hellboy 2 and Bale is no Ron Perlman. But it'll do.
(Dark Knight also echoes Batman Returns a lot, with crazy industrialists, a madman organising terrorist acts on the city (while running for mayor), conflicted central villain who has odd ties to Bats, Batman being turned on by the city he protects. But its not as good)

This may seems a little odd in writing about comic book movies but I picked up a copy of Cutter's Way, an excellent film made by Ivan passer, which stars Jeff Bridges and John Heard. A stunning film which i saw years ago and am looking forward to rewatching.

See you next time. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

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