Hellboy Returns (Sort of…)

This is an image of Ron Perlman as Hellboy from Guillermo Del Toro’s 2008 movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

If anyone could be said to be destined to play a character it’s Perlman, who’s Hellboy looked like he was pulled from the pages of Mike Mignola’s comic.

Flash forward to 2017 when the third film (Del Toro always intended to make a trilogy featuring Hellboy) was for a time considered, then abandoned.

For awhile it appeared that that was the end of Hellboy movies for the foreseeable future, till we learned that there would indeed be another, though without the participation of either Del Toro or Perlman.

This time around Hellboy will be directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday) and played by David Harbour (Stranger Things).

And I admit that it bothered me.  Guillermo Del Toro is for my money one of the most visually interesting directors working today and to have someone else do what would have been the final chapter in his penultimate Hellboy story somehow felt…wrong.

And to be sure, the way Del Toro either abandoned projects or had them fall apart for one reason or another didn’t exactly assuage my unease.

I mention all the above because today an image was released of David Harbour as Hellboy and it looks…pretty damn good!

He’s certainly more vascular than Perlman’s version of the character.  And for me he visually gives off a very Conan-vibe, circa 2011 and Jason Momoa.

I also like the moodier way he appears to be photographed.  With Guillermo Del Toro I felt that he made sure that you were aware that you were watching a comic writ large, which was his intention.

Neil Marshall may be taking an entirely different route in that the producers are working with a hard-R, as opposed to a PG-13 rating–thanks Deadpool though Blade should get the real credit–so a more visceral, physical feel is likely what the new producers are looking to achieve.

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‘Flatliners’ Likely to Die at the Box Office

The reboot of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 thriller Flatliners (directed by Niels Arden Oplev) premieres later this month, and is likely to have an uneventful–and short–run in theaters.

Reason being, IT has shown remarkable strength for an R-rated horror movie (and so far is making all the monies) but when you figure in Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) being released two weeks later, it will take more than a shot of adrenaline to save the thriller.

And looking at the second trailer, you’ll likely get an idea why.

It’s not only hard to tell what’s going on and why it’s happening though worse of all there doesn’t seem a particularly–based on the trailer–compelling reason to see it.

Marvel’s The Punisher – Teaser Trailer

There have been three movie incarnations of The Punisher since he was created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. in 1974, and while a popular character in comics, his movies never quite seemed to connect with audiences.

The first movie was in 1978, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/The Punisher.  It was okay, though he never displayed the the iconic skull emblem the character is known for (this lack of fidelity to the character was made up by it being somewhat gory).

The next version was in 2004 with Thomas Jane (who while physically is probably a bit short, he brought acting chops beyond Lundgren’s). It was okay, but failed in some really peculiar ways, such as as some underwhelming special effects and odd story beats (what I like to call the ‘fire hydrant scene’ is pretty bizarre).

Though at least he wore the iconic skull.

Thomas Jane also appeared in a short as The Punisher in 2012 (The Punisher: Dirty Laundry).

The Punisher next made another appearance in 2008 (This time played by Ray Stevenson) in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone.  

Easily the best interpretation of the character in movies–though some of the violence was way over the top and more cartoonish than anything seen prior–Stevenson brought the size of Lundgren, and the acting chops of Jane to the role.

Though it still underperformed in theaters.

Enter 2017, and the Punisher is back.  Introduced in season two of Marvel’s Daredevil and graduating to his own series (a better format for the character than movies) Jon Bernthal brings us a Punisher worthy of the name.

The DCEU Finds Redemption

There a story on Superherohype where Ben Affleck says that the portrayal of Batman in Warner Bros/DC Films upcoming Justice League would be a more ‘traditional’ portrayal of the character.

What!?

The fact that Affleck has to tell viewers this is indicative of perhaps the greatest problem the DCEU has (yet) to overcome: namely a loss of support from their core audience, which are the people who grew up reading the comics these characters first appeared in.

Which is such a weird place to be because it’s a problem of their own making in that all they needed to do was to make their superheroes more faithful (I understand that no character translates wholly intact from the printed page to the movie screen but it’s almost as if Warner Bros wasn’t even trying) to how the characters appeared in the comics, then literally sit back and rake in the cash.

But if Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have shown us anything, it’s seemingly not quite that easy.

Or does it?  Maybe the greatest problem with the three aforementioned movies has less to do with their their fidelity to the source material (though that’s certainly there) than an attempt to be visually and esthetically different from Marvel Studios.

And on some level that’s understandable.  What isn’t is creating such an esthetically and morally unappealing interpretation of Batman and Superman (though what’s worse is that there’s nothing wrong with such portrayals per se.  It’s more a question of starting with a more traditional interpretation then have events turn the character dystopic–which was said, but never shown in reference to Batman).

That’s an important journey viewers would have not enjoyed embarking on, and would have shown the seminal events that resulted in a murderous Batman (something the character studiously avoided during for the bulk of time he has existed).

Wonder Woman–for the DCEU–is literally a game changer in that it not appears more faithful to the comics than the aforementioned movies, yet managed to appeal to both critics and the bulk of the moviegoing audience.

It may not have quite restored faith in the fledgling cinematic universe that is the DCEU

You Can’t Keep A Good Judge Down


For awhile it seemed that the box office did what the Cursed Earth and the Angel Gang couldn’t which is to stop Judge Dredd.

But you can’t keep a good Judge–or Karl Urban–down despite the checkered performance of Dredd in movies.

The character’s first appearance was in 1995’s Judge Dredd, which was such a wasted opportunity to properly introduce the character to American audiences (he first appeared in the British comic 2000 AD).

The first problem was that he was played by Sylvester Stallone, which is less a commentary on Stallone as an actor (though he was never a particularly a good fit for Dredd, physically speaking) more than there was little chance he would go through the entire movie without taking off his helmet (Dredd NEVER showed his entire face and if by chance he removed his helmet–which was rare, but did happen–his face was always obscured somehow).

Despite its issues, Judge Dredd wasn’t a terrible movie and was somewhat faithful to the source material.

2012’s Dredd in contrast was far more faithful to the character and Karl Urban’s look almost perfectly embodied the character (though if I were picking nits I’d say that Urban, like Stallone, was a bit short because Dredd in the comics was always a bit tall and lanky) and the MegaCity One embodied by the movie was not quite as distant from the current day, visually speaking, as the 1995 movie.

Though, despite having a significantly smaller budget, Dredd underperformed as well though unlike Stallone’s portrayal it was army received by fans of the character and built a cult following when it left theaters.

So, as I said earlier, you can’t keep a good Judge down, and Dredd is the absolute best, which is why I’m not surprised that Karl Urban appears to be having active discussions on bringing Judge Dredd to the small screen (likely on either Netflix of Amazon), the episodic nature of which is a perfect vehicle for the further adventures of the best lawman in MegaCity One.

‘IT’ – Official Trailer #2

The latest trailer for Stephen King’s IT dropped a few hours ago, and the first thing I wondered when I saw if was if IT was also a part of the Stranger Things universe.

Both feature Finn Wolfhard, both revolve around a group of young people on the cusp of the adult world–and the secrets that it holds–facing bullies and their demons (both real and imagined).

And perhaps most importantly, both revolve around either the supernatural or things than can be easily interpreted as such (the Upsidedown from Stranger Things is approached in a more overtly scientific fashion than the terrors of IT but that’s less a question of the former not being supernatural than the approach to it being based in science).

Though the more likely explanation for the similarities is that Stranger Things is very much based on the work of Stephen King and movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter (particularly Carpenter, as far as the music and whole esthetic goes), so that it resembles a Stephen King movie is hardly a coincidence.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.