Tag Archives: Comic Book

Hellboy

Demons Have Demons Too.

Hellboy (2019)

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

Starring: David Harbour • Milla Jovovich • Ian McShane • Sasha Lane

*Minor spoilers*

Hellboy-Still-6

“Who are you calling ‘Helmet’?”

Who are you calling a monster, pal? Have you looked in the mirror recently? ~ Hellboy

This movie has received a lot of negative reviews. Milla Jovovich herself was asked what she thought of all the bad press and she responded that it will be a cult classic instead – and fuck the box office (to paraphrase). Which is possibly the best answer ever.

Having now seen it for myself, I can safely say… I completely agree with her.

Nobody is more surprised than me to learn that I loved this. I adored del Toro‘s HB movies more than cocoa puffs. BUT – I had a high old time with the new Hellboy (though admittedly it took me a moment). David Harbour might not have been my first choice to fill Ron Perlman‘s boots but I’m glad he’s here now.

The addition of psychic conduit Sasha Lane to the cast – as well as a fine turn (as always) from Ian McShane and a little help from a wild and wonderful new friend – and this does have the makings of a film you’d revisit again and again. Screw the people who didn’t like it.

milla-jovovich-blood-queen-in-hellboy-2019-p3

Yaaaaaas (Blood) Kween

Directed by Dog Soldiers’ Neil Marshall, it is extremely gory – with limbs flying and eyeballs exploding left and right. It is bloody for the sake of being bloody in places – and I am down for that.

Sure, some of the dialogue is utterly laughable but in that 90’s action movie way, particularly the one liners. In fact, most of the things this movie has been criticised for are the things I loved about it. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There’s a wonderful and grotesque segment inside Baba Yaga’s walking house which I adored – and the story itself, while stupid in place, is firmly grounded in old English folklore so what’s not to like.

Jovovich plays it pretty straight as super villainess Numue the Blood Queen but has a comedic sidekick in the form of pig faced Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham). And while we failed to stay for the post-credit scenes (rookies), this does climax with a hint to what could follow in the Hellboy universe and I’m there with bells on.

Yeah, I probably would

Glynn and I were pretty much the only two people in the cinema enjoying ourselves but I’m not mad about being in the minority – come see me when this is the ultimate cult classic in 25 years time and I’ll tell you – I told you so.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Shazam!

Shazam! (2019)

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.

Starring: Zachary Levi • Djimon Hounsou • Mark Strong

*Minor spoilers*

Sure, Shazam! is a little less dark than your average comic book movie but it has its moments. We went with Beau at the weekend and we all left with a smile on our faces – so yes, good clean family fun all round.

Billy (Asher Angel) is a fourteen-year-old tearaway with one objective – to find his birth mother. Running away from every foster home he’s ever had, all he cares about is reuniting with the woman who lost him when he was a little boy.

It’s all about faaaaaaamily

When Billy takes this quest one step too far, he’s placed by his exasperated social worker into a new home with foster parents Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans). This is his last chance saloon but to say he’s thrilled by the arrangement would be a damn lie.

His eye is still on the prize and he’s not there to make friends, despite the efforts of his new foster siblings; Freddy, Mary, Darla, Eugene and Pedro.

When he accidentally meets The Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) – there’s a whole convoluted intro to the wizard which I’m leaving to you, the viewer – he inherits crazy powers and begins his journey toward hero-dom.

For, when Billy says the magic word – it escapes me now – he becomes the very adult Shazam (Zachary Levi).

Capes are out, didn’t anyone tell you?

With the help of new friend/bro Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy begins to figure out his new super skills. But with bitter super-villain Dr. Thaddeus Silvana (Mark Strong) on his tail and after the powers for himself – he’s going to need more than just lightning fingers to keep the city safe.

The message here is a sweet enough and it’s actually quite upsetting when Billy (as himself) finally meets his mum. I know I cry at everything but I did get a lump in my throat. Billy just wants what we all want: love and acceptance.

One of these things is not like the others

The Vasquez’s are heavenly with a wholesome but firm parenting style – and the kids aren’t annoying at all, not even once. The more I think of this silly film the more I realise I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I went and I definitely would have avoided it had my step-son not wanted to go.

The effects are great – the seven deadly sins are brilliant – the ‘training’ montages are a scream and Mark Strong makes a fine villain.

I’m looking forward to the sequel which is rumoured to be starring Dwayne Johnson. Bring it.

Just kiss already

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Jude Law

*Minor Spoilers*

Vers is a Starforce member on Hala, the Kree Empire’s capital planet. Under the tutelage of her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), she is learning how to become a fine warrior. Which is all well and good but she’s haunted by nightmares that she doesn’t understand and a past she can’t remember.

Bestowed with special powers given to her by the Kree, Carol is urged by the Supreme Intelligence to think less with her emotions and more with her head, something she very much struggles with because she’s a fucking woman and what are we? That’s right: too sensitive.

“We have to arm wrestle, it’s the Law.”

During her first mission with Starforce, shit hits the fan when the team stumble into a Skrull ambush and Vers is taken hostage by their kingpin, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Skrulls FYI are alien shape-shifters and the Kree’s arch enemy.

Anyway, Vers manages to escape their evil clutches and plunges to Earth where she promptly meets a very familiar face, Shield agent Mr. Nick Fury. While he’s skeptical about Vers’ very honest account of what she’s doing on this planet, he soon sees enough evidence for himself that she might just be telling the truth.

Carol was a pro at staring

What follows is a cute road trip for two as Fury and Vers search for the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) who seems to hold the key not only to what the Skrulls are after but who Vers might really be.

I really enjoyed The Carol Danvers story. It’s female-centric in a way none of the Marvel movies have been so far (although there have been moments) but its done really well, without hammering the point home. I buy Brie Larson completely as a pilot and I absolutely love her chemistry with Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Girls 4 eva

She’s a competent, likeable hero who can kick arse with or without her fiery fists – and she’s true to herself, learning that it’s okay to think with your heart and not your head if you damn well please. This is a battle I have constantly with myself so I really connect with that aspect of the narrative.

There are a few surprises along the way and it’s genuinely touching to follow Vers/Carol as she pieces together the life she had before she ended up on Hala. While I don’t want to give too much away to those who haven’t caught this movie yet, there is a ‘twist’ you can see coming a mile off. If I’m honest as soon as I saw Jude Law’s goddamn beautiful face, it was already planted in my mind. But I don’t think it ruins anything really.

Green with envy over that big gun

Comic relief in the form of Goose the cat (played by no less than three stunt kitties) is fun and there are moments it veers into Guardians of the Galaxy territory with its humour (which could never be a bad thing). I really like both Maria Rambeau and her daughter Monica (played respectively by Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar).

There’s such sadness in Maria, who believed her best friend to be dead and now has to come to terms with the fact that she’s alive and doesn’t remember their former life and adventures together. But there’s hope too, of course and yey for that.

Flame emoji forever

Okay so this might not be the very best Marvel film ever made and sometimes it’s just little too spacey for my personal taste – I much prefer the fish out of water on earth aspect of the story – but it’s a strong start and a pleasing introduction to a character I knew little about (DC Girl, innit).

Carol’s presence in End Game is going to be very welcome and I’m extremely excited for next month.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Update: I can’t believe I hit Publish on this post without gushing about the soundtrack. It’s 90’s perfection and every tune is a bop. Special mention to the mighty Just a Girl by No Doubt which was my teen anthem.

Goose: the best Avenger?

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

I knew I wouldn’t get on well with this. The trailer failed to get my juices flowing and I didn’t think I’d be able to get past the CGI’d central character, Alita (Rosa Salazar). In fact, Alita was the least distracting thing about the film and I have healthy respect for the way she’s animated.

Glynn really wanted to see and enjoy this, so with no expectation (on my part), we took Date Night to the Odeon. While this film wasn’t my favourite – and actually made me scoff a few times because it was so awkward – I enjoyed some of the spectacle. Everything is CGI’d to the hilt and it’s an impressive world built from scratch.

The year is 2563 and a world war know as “The Fall” has left the Earth devastated. We find ourselves in Iron City which is nothing more really than a massive junk yard. Times are tough here and it’s made all the more difficult by the looming sky city of Zalem, which is placed directly over Iron City.

The poor (fiscally and physically) residents of IC are overshadowed by the obscene wealth of Zalem every day of their lives. Some long to beg, steal or borrow their way up there by any means necessary. One day, cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson (Christoph Waltz) is scavenging an actual junk yard when he finds the healthy head and brain of a female cyborg. He brings her home, gives her a body and a heart – and names her “Alita”.

Alita quickly adapts to her new life but she has little recollection of where she came from. For all intents and purposes, she’s just a normal teenage girl who happens to be a cyborg. When she meets Hugo (Keean Johnson), he opens up her world view all the more. But Alita isn’t just a normal teenage girl and it soon becomes apparent that whatever she is, she’s a warrior. She has incredible survival instincts and is an expert in an ancient martial art.

This comes in handy when she finds out Dyson is moonlighting as a Hunter-Warrior (bounty hunter) and she gets to help him take down some lowly criminals.

Alas, this puts Alita on everyone’s map and not in a good way as she upsets the order of things, pissing off not only the criminal underworld but also the Hunter-Warrior community. All this runs alongside the national spectacle of Motorball, an all-consuming sport that everyone seems to love. Obviously she’s a natural at that too.

And there’s a helluva a lot more to it than that. The film looks good if you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for two hours. The action is satisfying too but it just doesn’t have much of a soul. When it comes down to it, Alita is the best character in it and I think it’s because of her enthusiasm. Both Mahershala Ali (as gang boss Vector) and Jennifer Connelly (as Dyson’s ex-wife Chiren) are wasted. Waltz seems to phone it in. Ed Skrein‘s shady Hunter-Warrior Zapan is horrible –  and the central teen romance is cringe-worthy AF.

While Alita has every right to the ordinary aspects of life, I could have done without the YA romance. Hugo is as terrible as Zapan and I didn’t care for him at all. But you know, as I type this I realise there’s more to like than dislike so maybe you’ll like it more than I did. It’s not a total disaster after all, just not my cup of tea.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Glass

Glass (2019)

*Minor spoilers*

I suspect one of the reasons I’m not that great at reviewing films is that I sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. Rather than veering toward the difficult to please stance of most purists, I usually lap up most of what I’m given because I have such a bias towards the characters I love. It’s hard for me to be critical sometimes.

I loved Unbreakable (2000) so much. It’s part of my regular catalog of movies that never fail to make me feel something. Often I hear the criticism that it doesn’t have enough oomph but that to me is what makes it perfect. It takes the concept of heroes and villains, and humanises it. It’s my favourite of M. Night‘s canon without question.

Split (2016) was enjoyable, particularly when you consider James McAvoy‘s mind boggling performance(s) but where UB was low-key and moody, Split was turned all the way up to bonkers and seldom lets up. Glass is more of the same and honestly, it’s messy but I liked it.

I may be in the minority. I thought what they did was interesting, threw us more than one curve ball and satisfied me. I didn’t buy all of it and found myself a little irritated by some of the bits that seemed clumsily tacked on but you can’t win ’em all. I’m trying hard not to drop major spoiler here – one of the girls at work dropped a massive clanger in front of my colleague after she’d seen it and I’m still giggling/traumatised by the experience.

Let’s talk about what I did like. I loved coming back to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his now grown up son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). Now co-running their own security company with David moonlighting as The Overseer (to name but a few of his publicly considered nicknames), the two stalk the police radio airwaves for potential trouble.

All this has lead to multiple newspaper articles about the mysterious rain slicker-wearing hero and the feds getting antsy about vigilante justice. Joseph warns his father to keep a low profile for a while but where’s the fun in that?

When he sniffs out a new ‘case’ – a quartet of missing cheerleaders at the hands of a very familiar character – he bites off way more than he can chew.

The trailer is very clear about what happens next so no surprises. Dennis (and friends) join David Dunn and one other blast from the past, the titular “First name: Mister. Last name: Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson) in some sort of institution, where Sarah Paulson‘s Dr. Ellie Staple is on hand to talk each of them out of their superhero delusions.

But nothing’s ever that simple and the result is… well, the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s action, there’s Mr Glass and there are conclusions drawn and connections made.

Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cook, the sympathetic protagonist from Split and she’s lovely. A somehow calming influence over The Beast and his twenty-plus disciples, she fights his corner and humanises him too. I must say James McEvoy seems to have refined his performance since Split and is the strongest character here. I expected to be blown away at the return of Glass and Dunn, but it’s Dennis & Co who kept me in.

From the sidelines there is strong support too from Joseph and from Mrs. Price (Mister Glass’ ma played by Charlayne Woodard), the trio of secondary characters who actually care about the outcome of our central trio. Which is more than can be said about the crew apparently taking care of them from here. Paulson doesn’t shine quite as much as she usually does and I’m guessing this is because her particular strand is my least favourite (and the flimsiest). I wonder what it might have been like had they been left to their own devices.

I’ve already said too much but I did enjoy the look, the performances and the way it all clicks into place. The institution setting is one of my favourites and the use of colour is eye-catching and effective.

Will there ever be more? Well, it is suggested that this could all go off on a tangent in years to come – I’m not sure I want to be part of it though. (Who the hell am I trying to kid?!).

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Five Tiny Film Reviews

These are the last five movies I watched in 2018 and have been too lazy to post about – with micro reviews:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

The film itself is fine but this is one of the weakest stories in the series (the first not written by Steig Larsson but David Lagercrantz). However, it does offer us a brand new Lisbeth Salander and that’s the real reason I rushed to see it. Claire Foy does a good job. I was curious about her ability to rock the look and she aces it, bringing her own grace to the character. Throw in some sweet Lakeith Stanfield action and a sadistic, vengeful little sister – and I enjoyed myself. Probably a little forgettable but I’m interested to see where this franchise might lead.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Creed II (2018)

Creed was amazing and this is good too, with strong performances all round. Tessa Thompson steals the show from everyone as the world’s most understanding girlfriend Bianca. If I were to pick on it I would say it’s a little heavy-handed on the sentimentality and the abrupt turn around at the end by Dolph Lundgren‘s Ivan Drago might be touching but it is a little barf-worthy. I didn’t hate it though and I’m always going to be there for Michael B. Jordan and any training montage he wants to share with me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Aquaman (2018)

I’ve never been so aroused and pissed off at the same time. Unfortunately, while Jason Momoa may be the hottest human man on Earth, this film is a pile of steaming garbage and there’s no getting away from that. The dialogue is cheap, it’s light on laughs and is also boring in places, perhaps it’s biggest crime. It does have warrior sharks though so most of the rating I give is for them.

Back to the drawing board again, DC – or maybe given Patty Jenkins a call?

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Marvel, meanwhile knocks it out of the park again with this animated treat. Into the Spiderverse is fun, stylish and has a soundtrack to die for. While it’s silly in places, it works well and the blend of darkness and light works perfectly. My highlight is Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir but there’s excellent voice work from Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali and Hailee Steinfeld too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

While this does border on just a little too saccharine for me (balloon scene particularly), it was magical in many ways. Emily Blunt rocks Poppins while bringing her own sarky tone to proceedings, the kids don’t make me want to punch them and Emily Mortimer is dreamy AF (as always). I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to see this if it hadn’t been just before Christmas but I’m glad I did. Is it as good as the original (as most people have asked)? Hard to say, I was never a Poppins purest (more of a Bedknobs & Broomsticks kinda girl) but it is a strong sequel. Definitely worth a watch if you’re not adverse to musicals and uber tweeness.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What have you been watching?