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Overlord – Official Trailer

I’ve considered Adolph Hitler and the rise of Nazism fascinating for quite awhile now, though not for what I believe are typical reasons. What interests me is that there was literally no way Hitler could have done what he did without the defacto acquiescence of the German people (at least initially, before his mad enterprise built a momentum all it’s own).

After all, military force can only go so far when someone has to make government function so by default you’re dealing with lots of ordinary people, doing whatever it is that they do, perhaps only distantly realizing they’re–in ways both big and small– in league with a monster.

And that’s of course assuming they didn’t agree with his ‘final solution.’

Vincenzo Natali’s Cube is one of the better examples of a movie where people are placed in a situation where they–literally and figuratively–have to deal with a situation, a process doing whatever it is designed to do seemingly without oversight or accountability.

This brings me to J.J. Abrams’ Overlord which appears to fit firmly in the ‘Germans Are Bad Department,’ but appears to play with Heinrich Himmler‘s fascination with the occult.

And…it feels like something we’ve all seen before. In fact, what separates it from more other examples of Nazi-based horror is what looks like a relatively healthy special effects budget (in fact it virtually a gorier version of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy).

And I’d be the last person to criticize horror movies in general though I wish this one had aimed for something more than what appears to be fairly obvious.

Is ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ In Trouble?

Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.54.50I asked this question a few months ago in reference to Ready Player One and I think it’s worth considering for Pacific Rim: Uprising as well because–while premiering domestically March 23rd means it will avoid the box office tsunami known as Black Panther–you have to wonder how much interest there is in the project.

Keep in mind the original movie’s only saving grace–in terms of box office receipts–was its performance in China, since it underwhelmed domestically.

For reasons I don’t claim to understand there doesn’t seem to be much demand at the moment for giant robot movies (a reality that has caught up with the Transformers movies as well–finally–seeing that Transformers: The Last Knight failed to set the domestic box office on fire as well).

Steven DeKnight is a capable director though but I don’t know what he brings to the project that a brilliant director like Guillermo Del Toro couldn’t, which is problematic.

Though to be fair, the original Pacific Rim was a passion project for Del Toro; perhaps DeKnight’s distance from the project may help DeKnight bring something to the project that Del Toro could not.

Or maybe, while I don’t believe that superhero fatigue is a real thing, perhaps giant robot fatigue is.

We’ll find out later this month.

 

 

A Perfect Vehicle for Michael Bay

Screenshot 2018-02-11 19.53.04And that’s not a sentiment I come by all too often because Bay’s movies are all about what’s on the surface, and typically lack anything approaching nuance (though to be fair he definitely knows his audience.)

Though that audience is generally not terribly discriminating, which is why it’s so maddening when the Transformers movies do so well (except for the last one), while Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim performed particularly weak domestically and would not have warranted a sequel if it hadn’t done so well in China.

As you can probably tell, I’m by no means a fan of Michael Bay as a director though if you’re looking for someone to handle big, brash spectacle, they’re few directors that can wrangle chaos as beautifully.

When he plays to his strengths–Transformers, Bad Boys, The Rock–he can be pretty amazing. though when he doesn’t (pretty much every other Transformers movie, Pain and Gain) it’s typically not too good because Bay typically has a tin ear as far as dialogue and the way humans actually interact with each other.

So when I heard that he’s considering directing a movie based on DC’s Lobo, I was okay with it because Bay is like the Main Man himself: shallow, all about bombast and climax not so much about anything approaching nuance and character development.

Pacific Rim: Uprising – Teaser Trailer

1993’s kaiju versus giant robots epic Pacific Rim never appeared to find its audience domestically–earning three times more ($102 million vs $309 million) at the foreign box office (primarily China). 

And it’s hard to understand why, epecially when you take into account it had more heart and was more clever in it’s first five minutes the all the Transmorphers movies combined (that’s not a typo.  I despise those movies so much I dare not type their names) and those made gobs of money. 

On the strength of the aforementioned foreign box recepts we’re getting a sequel: Pacific Rim: Uprising (speaking of which, who’s doing the ‘uprising?’  The first movie revolved around extra dimensional beings who entered this world through a rift in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean though the subtitle implies a significant change in relationship between humans and the aliens).  

What I know for certain is that Guillermo Del Toro will not be directing this time around (that honor goes to Steven DeKnight). 

And I am not sure how I feel about that.  Part of my problem is that I tend to over-emphasize with Del Toro (a person I have never met, and vice versa) on the strength of his movies.  

I really–somewhat irrationally, I know–really want him to succeed despite there being little (other than having seen a well put together and interesting movie) benefit or incentive for me to feel that way. 

Though there’s also the feeling that so many lesser directors manage to be much more successful on top of  the list of projects he has either abandoned or never got to make (The Hobbit and At the Mountains of Madness come to mind though I’m still holding out for the latter) for various reasons. 

Though if anyone were to replace Del Toro, Steven DeKnight is a great choice (check him out on Twitter at @stevendeknight he’s interesting, opinionated and refreshingly free of bs and pretentiousness). 

Kind of like Del Toro himself. 

The Shape of Water – Red Band Trailer

Just in case anyone out there thinks Screenphiles has become a member of the Guillermo Del Toro Fan Club (not that there’s such a thing as far as I know), let me assure you in no way is that the case.

Though speaking of Del Toro, did you know a Red Band trailer from The Shape of Water recently dropped?

This is interesting for numerous reasons though the first that comes to mind is that–based on the trailers released thus far–is if there is even anything at all ‘Red band’ (which typically designates violence, sexual content or lots of really bad words–and I’m not kidding about that last one)  about the movie.

Having watched the so-called Red band trailer the worse I saw were two letters of a pretty common expletive (there was an earlier scene that was a bit questionable, though I need to watch it again), though what we have seen this far has been pretty tame and by no means warrants a ‘Red band’ designation.

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.

The Water Seems Fine

I have to admit that when I learned a bit more about Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water I was somewhat underwhelmed (partially because the color palette of the trailer seemed too evocative of earlier Del Toro films and partially because it also seemed like a stealth Hellboy prequel, which sucks because we never ended up with a third movie in the series; though that’s no longer the case, it will be an entirely different animal than the Del Toro movies).

So reviews have begun to filter in, and they so far seem rather effusive with their praise (though keep in mind that there have been relatively few reviews thus far; no more than eight to ten.  So expect The Shape of Water‘s perfect score to fall when more are posted) with lots of comparisons to Pan’s Labyrinth–though for my money The Devil’s Backbone is a more interesting movie.

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