Del Toro’s Fantastic Voyage

Guillermo Del Toro ranks among my favorite directors, though what I have seen–which is exclusively the trailer–of The Shape of Water left me underwhelmed.

Color palette-wise it feels a lot like Blade II, while story-wise and visually it feels like The Further Adventures of Abe Sapien (though part of me hopes the movie is a backdoor way for Del Toro to delve deeper into the worlds of H.P Lovecraft).

In other words, despite never having seen the movie, I feel like I have, which is never a good thing.

Now, Del Toro directing a remake of 1966’s Fantastic Voyage?  Now that I’m interested in!

By the way, this is how you do remakes!  Most people don’t even remember the original–though there also was a cartoon based on it two years later, never mind the novel–so it’s going to be new to most, which should give the producers room to veer from the source material if necessary.

Though there’s a fly in the soup, namely David Goyer, who’s writing (though to be fair Goyer also wrote Blade II and Del Toro was apparently able to reign in his hackier tendencies, so hope springs eternal).

By the way, Guru!?  Notice how everyone on the team has an actual name, while the Indian character doesn’t (A guru is ‘a religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism…’).

That’s like naming someone ‘teacher’ or ‘bar keep.’  And I won’t even start on the ‘master of mysterious powers’ malarkey.

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The Shape of Water – Trailer

Guillermo Del Toro is, visually speaking, one of the most distinctive directors working today.

The way he lays out a scene, the color palette he uses…typically unique and unlike any anyone else.

So, why am I (atypically) lukewarm toward his latest project, The Shape of Water?

Maybe because it looks very much like things we have already seen from the auteur before.

The set design of the laboratory where the creature is held looks too similar to designs he’s used in movies like Blade II and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army while the Deep One itself looks like a not-too-distant relation of Abe Sapien from the latter movie.

In fact, the trailer plays almost as a Hellboy prequel (minus Hellboy, that is) which is certainly odd.

The Strain Trilogy Is Coming To A Television Near You! (As Long You Have Cable, That Is)

The StrainGuillermo Del Toro is, it goes without saying, one of my favorite directors working today.  His work is always interesting, even if doesn’t make billions of dollars.  He’s been working with Legendary Pictures since “Pacific Rim,” which did OK at the boxoffice.

I haven’t heard anything about a sequel, though he’s currently working on “Crimson Peak,”, also with Legendary as well as Charlie Hunnam (and probably Ron Perlman, who if anyone could be called his muse, it would be him).

But as much as I enjoyed ‘Rim,’ I am not writing about that.  Instead I am writing about the series he has coming on FX, based on the series of books he wrote with Chuck Hogan, which consist of “The Strain,” “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal.”

The storyline is vaguely similar to Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” in which a plague of vampires–’plague’ is an apt word because Del Toro and Dixon treat the vampires as an disease (which is actually quite similar to what he did in “Blade II).

  The Eclipse

Body Bags

Five Reasons That Will Contribute To Guillermo Del Toro Directing Doctor Strange

This post is entirely speculation, though it is based upon logic as well as current news.

Notice that in the title of this article I sad “could” as opposed to “would” because the last I heard was that Del Toro was busy working on Legendary Pictures’ upcoming fright-feature “Crimson Peak,” as well as executive producing the FX series based upon the trilogy he wrote with Chuck Hogan, “The Strain,” “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal.”

But I have been reading the tea leaves and checking the entrails regularly, and here’s what I have seen:

1.  Despite Rumors To The Contrary, Guillermo Del Toro Will Not Be Doing “Justice League Dark” Anytime Soon

Why?  Because NBC is working on “Constantine,” a series not based on the Francis Lawrence movie of the same name, but the DC (formerly under their Vertigo imprint) series, also of the same name.  While it’s possible that the character could appear in both places at the same time (this is, of course assuming that the television series has a long life), it’s probably not going to happen.  The character of John Constantine is the lynchpin that the team revolves around, and without him the concept is pretty much dead in the water, besides being somewhat esoteric.

Matt Ryan/John Constantine

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

And that’s even considering how much Warner Bros would have to invest from the budget end of things, which would probably be huge (though they could do it with a partner, as long as it’s not Legendary Pictures, since they and Warner Bros. somewhat acrimoniously parted ways.  That being said, they still work with Village Roadshow Pictures).

2.  DC/Warner Bros. Doesn’t Seem To Have Much Of A Plan Toward Developing Their Characters

Whether or not someone likes what Marvel is doing with their characters, you have to admit that they not only have a plan, but they are executing it really, really well.  This is primarily because the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has apparently developed a plan to develop their characters, and is following it.  Marvel’s roadmap is divided into Phases:  Phase One consisted of “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” ” Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “Thor” and culminated in “The Avengers.”

Notice the pattern:  First there’s an introduction of the characters–which may or may not have more than one film in the future–and a film that brings them all together.

Phase Two consists of “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Guardians Of The Galaxy,” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Phase Three will consist of “Ant-Man,” “Captain America 3,” “Thor 3” and “The Avengers 3.”

As I said, you don’t necessarily have to like what Marvel is doing, but what you can’t deny is that there is a plan at work.

Warner Bros/DC?  Not so much.  What seems to be driving them is profit above all, which I understand, but that’s not a plan.  Though it didn’t exactly start that way because for awhile it appeared that DC was building toward a Justice League feature–and probably still are–which began with “Green Lantern.”

Oh, but wait!  Green Lantern?  Don’t I mean Batman?  No, I don’t because Christopher Nolan’s Batman films aren’t necessarily part of DC’s greater cinematic plans because Nolan quite deliberately kept them separate from the rest of the DC Universe, which was probably not a great decision in retrospect.

Though that’s why “Green Lantern” was so important:  It was the beginning of DC/Warner Bros. establishing a larger canvas on which to display their properties.  If Green Lantern had worked they could have brought Ryan Reynolds back as the character in other DC films, such as the Justice League, or even the upcoming “Batman Vs. Superman” feature.

But it was not to be because Green Lantern was unable to recharge either his lantern or the box office, where it earned almost $220 million on a $200 million dollar budget; not enough to make a profit.

So DC rebooted Superman, in “Man of Steel,” without a doubt the most violent Superman film ever made.

Which could perhaps explain why that film made “only” $668 million dollars.  It’s a lot of money, but for a character as iconic and as firmly established in the public consciousness as Superman, it actually wasn’t that great a performance.

For the sequel, “Superman Vs. Batman,” DC will not only feature Superman and Batman, but Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor as the villain.  It seems apparent that they are trying to follow a strategy similar to Marvel, except more compressed.

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The State of Special Effects

Above is a video of a partial animatronic (a covered skeletal armature that use various methods to mimic the motion of a human, animal, or imaginary being) test for the movie “I Am Legend” from Steve Johnson FX.  It was not used in the final film, though considering the designs that were, is disappointing.

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