Category Archives: Fantasy

Thirst (2009) Review

102a5ef48df1d8d0538f5ac29751afc3

Thirst

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Horror, violence, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyun
Kim Ok-bin as Tae-ju
Kim Hae-sook as Mrs. Ra
Shin Ha-kyun as Kang-woo
Park In-hwan as Priest Roh
Song Young-chang as Seung-dae
Oh Dal-su as Young-du
Director: Park Chan-wook

Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), a priest working for a hospital, selflessly volunteers for a secret vaccine development project intended to eradicate a deadly virus. However, the virus eventually takes over the priest. He nearly dies, but makes a miraculous recovery by an accidental transfusion of vampire blood. He realizes his sole reason for living: the pleasures of the flesh.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I was interested in Thirst by the mere fact that Park Chan-wook directed it. I was interested to see how a vampire movie by Park would be. Additionally, I really like Song Kang-ho as an actor, and so him playing the lead here interested me greatly. Thirst is one of the most unique vampire movies I’ve seen, it might be a little overloaded with what it tries to do, but overall, I thought it was quite good.

unnamed (1)

As I said earlier, Thirst is a unique take on the vampire genre. The film takes many familiar gothic tropes and utilises them and plays around with them in a interesting way. Despite these tropes being quite traditional and the story structure having been used many times before, the film still manages to feel distinct. As a vampire story it stands out, and the transition from human to vampire was told in a compelling way. With that said, calling Thirst merely a vampire movie would be doing it a disservice. It really is a blend of different genres and elements including horror, drama and comedy, with the end result being a gory psychological horror romantic thriller (and even that doesn’t quite do it justice). The story puts the main character in an interesting dilemma as he goes on a very dark journey when he becomes a vampire. The characters are very well developed, especially the two lead characters, and the story is suspenseful. The writing is strong, with sharp and witty dialogue. Thirst is also weirdly funny like some of Park’s other movies, or really a lot of other dark South Korean thrillers in general. There’s a certain level of quirkiness throughout. This movie is filled to the brim with thought provoking themes and complex topics that Park takes on. The movie deals with love, passion, belief, sin and desire, and portrays the darker side of humanity. Also Thirst places at a close second for most passionate and erotic films from Park Chan-wook right behind The Handmaiden (the film’s title of Thirst really does have a double meaning). I will say that it really does feel like Thirst is trying to cover a lot, most of it works but at times it feels like it is trying to handle too much. Thirst is also definitely a slow burn, it’s very deliberately paced and seems to meander early in the movie. It also does feel quite long, and potentially it could’ve been a little shorter.

thirst-ceci-est-mon-sang-bakjwi-thirst-30-09-2009-30-04-2009-2-g

Another strong aspect of the movie is the performances, which are fantastic. Song Kang-ho gives a stellar performance as the lead character of a priest in crisis who becomes a vampire who struggles to hold onto his urges. Song Kang-ho embraces all the emotions his character is going through, and convincingly conveys all the conflicts that he has over the course of the movie. It’s not just him however, Kim Ok-bin also excels in the role of a housewife who goes through her own transformation into someone very different from where she started. It was thrilling to watch and was convincingly done, she really shines in the second half especially. The chemistry between the two were good, their dynamic was one of the shining points of the movie. These characters are complex and feel human, helped both by the writing and acting.

1014ea3dd9850051fe609262e8882b65

Park Chan-wook directs this, and it’s no surprise that it’s so great on a technical level. There are some gorgeous visuals, with great cinematography and camerawork, and the set and costume designs are top notch. Also worth noting is that despite this being a vampire movie, Thirst has the recurrent colour of blue across the movie instead of red. There are some hallucinations at certain points in the movie and they are filmed quite creatively. There are lots of blood as to be expected given it’s a vampire movie and one directed by Park, and the effects are really good. The editing and the score round out the rest of the technical elements and are great in their own rights.

88945b56ce741d5490934138c114ca5151c67622

Thirst may be a bit long and try to tackle a little too much thematically, but on the whole it’s a great and unique take on vampires, and a great psychological romantic horror thriller. Park Chan-wook directs it excellently, the story is engaging and has a lot going on, and the lead performances from Song Kang-ho and Kim Ok-bin are fantastic. If you like vampire movies, horror movies and/or Park Chan-wook movies, I highly recommend checking it out.

Loki Season 1 (2021) Review

Columna-del-Comic-2

Loki Season 1

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer
Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15
Eugene Cordero as Casey
Tara Strong voices Miss Minutes
Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius
Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie
Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20
Jack Veal as Kid Loki
DeObia Oparei as Boastful Loki
Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki
Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains
Director:
Kate Herron
Creator: Michael Waldron

Loki, the God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston), steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Loki was yet another show from the MCU which would be releasing on Disney+. Out of the shows that Marvel initially announced, I was wondering about what the point of this one was, especially after Loki had his death in the opening of Avengers: Infinity War. From the trailers I reckoned that it would be just filling the gap of the Loki who disappeared with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, and would generally just consist of him getting into shenanigans involving time periods. Some of that was true, but it ended up being a lot different than I thought it would be.

LOKI

There’s some aspects of the show worth experiencing for yourself, so I’ll try to be light with spoilers and details. Loki starts out with a whole lot of worldbuilding in the first episode with the TVA, an organisation that preserves the current timeline, and I thought it was quite interesting learning about all this. Like with WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki also explores its lead character and the show is character focused. The lead character certainly goes through a change, even when it’s picking up with the Loki from 2012’s The Avengers. The show is definitely slower paced and for some that might get a bit dull. However I appreciated the slower pace and what it was going for. There are some action scenes in the show but it never feels like it is reliant on it. It does take a while to get into what the story is really about, the first couple of episodes takes its time to develop things and while I was invested, I know that some will find that its just meandering. After the first three episodes though I think you’ll get into it. There is some humour but unlike some other MCU projects it doesn’t interrupt anything and actually works well for the tone of the show.

35bb068e908f18732de145f5eda5c982_4096x2730_71bcb976-scaled

Usually the finale is where the MCU shows have an issue. WandaVision changed from what it was trying to do and just devolves into a very typical Marvel climax with large special effects. The Falcon and Winter Soldier was more consistent but the way the finale played out ended up highlighting the issues that the entire show had. However, Loki actually nails the ending quite well. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t end with a traditional climax, and once again I really appreciate that. It is staying true to itself and being more about the story and characters rather than just ticking another box in the Marvel formula. I will say this however, unlike the other two shows, it ends in a cliff-hanger. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say this since its been announced that Loki has been renewed for a second season. Some character arcs haven’t been quite completed and story plotlines weren’t quite fully resolved, as a result some aspects feel less satisfying compared to the other Marvel shows because they haven’t been finalised yet. So much critical stuff happens in the last episode that I’m surprised that it was happened in this show as opposed to one of the bigger Marvel movies. I know that not everyone watches the MCU shows, even people who watch the movies, and some will probably look over Loki because it seems like a one off show just about Loki. However for what it’s worth I think the show is worth watching if only because of the roll on effect it will have on the other movies and shows. In terms of credits scenes, surprisingly there’s only one in episode 4, and just a little tease in episode 6, which are worth watching.

loki-episode-3-photo-Tom-Hiddleston-Sophia-Di-Martino-scaled

The cast were also great in their parts. As expected, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role of Loki. Not only does he get to have a lot of fun as Loki, but Loki goes through a change of his own over the course of the show. To put this in context, this is the Loki from The Avengers (2012) finding out what happens to him (including his death in Infinity War). So he goes through his own change and development, like the lead characters in the previous Marvel shows. However, there’s something even more fascinating about a character like Loki going through the change, and this show makes me like Loki more as a character. Sophia Di Martino plays a vital character named Sylvie, and she’s great in her part too. Her onscreen dynamic with Loki was great to see, especially considering the connection the two of them have (won’t get into it more than that). Another notable character is that of an agent of the TVA named Mobius played by Owen Wilson, and this might actually be one of my favourite roles and performances from Wilson. He has great chemistry with Hiddleston and I loved seeing the two of them interacting, especially in the earlier episodes. Other supporting actors with the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku are also good in their parts. There are two guest performers in this who stand out, both of them are particularly great in their screentime. The one actor whose name I can mention is Richard E. Grant, and while I won’t go into what his role is, he pretty much stole the entire episode that he was in with his performance. The second performer is a critical role, and who makes me very excited for what’s to come next in the other movies and shows.

loki_hiddleston

This show is directed by Kate Herron, and she’s done a great job with it all. The show is visually striking and nothing like what the MCU has done before. The set designs, environments and CGI are great (the look of the TVA alone was immediately distinct), those and the cinematography came together to form a gorgeous looking show. As said previously, there is action here and to be honest they aren’t that spectacular. They usually just consist of Loki and other characters involved with hand to hand combat with maybe some weapons. They are filmed okay and are solid enough, they are good enough for the purpose of the show. There is one large set piece involving a lot of CGI in one of the later episodes but even that’s handled very well. Another standout is the score from Natalie Holt, which is incredibly distinct and really gives the show a unique tone and feel. One of my favourite scores from the MCU.

lamentis-loki-season-1-episode-3

Loki has ended up being one of my favourite instalments in the MCU. As someone who almost begrudgingly likes some of the MCU projects, I was thoroughly surprised by it. While it is still in the MCU, it remained true to itself and didn’t feel too constrained by some of the formula that some of the movies and shows have to follow. The performances were all solid, the direction was great, and I was invested with the story and characters. If you are interested in the MCU I think it is worth checking out.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Review

81495944578

My Neighbor Totoro

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Chika Sakamoto as Mei Kusakabe
Noriko Hidaka as Satsuki Kusakabe
Hitoshi Takagi as Totoro
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Mei and Satsuki shift to a new house to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital. They soon become friends with Totoro, a giant rabbit-like creature who is a spirit.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Having watched and loved Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke, I had been having great times with the Studio Ghibli movies. Another one of the Ghibli movies that were highlighted was My Neighbor Totoro, naturally I checked it out next. While I don’t quite love it as much as those past movies, it’s still really good.

1181603

The premise of My Neighbor Totoro is nice and simple; two little girls move into an old house in the countryside with their father while their mother is recovering at the hospital. Much like Kiki’s Delivery Service, it is rather light on plot as a whole. It was a nice, charming adventure that while being simple, allowed for an otherworldly tale of childhood and imagination to take place. Despite some of the fantastical things that happen in this movie, the human story is really the backbone to all of this. The film shows you the vibrant life of two siblings getting comfortably settled to their brand-new surroundings during this difficult time for them, and them discovering extraordinary things along the way. It does have beautiful animations and creatures that are loveable, but it’s also a serious tale about real children. This is really helped by the fact that the children actually act like real children. It’s a coming of age tale, as well as a statement on the longevity of innocence. You could call it a ‘vibe movie’ in that its just following the main characters and is fairly plotless. As that, it doesn’t work as well for me as say Kiki’s Delivery Service, but still delightful to watch. Miyazaki creates a universe where childhood perspective of the world take over, and it’s not bound by any rules of traditional storytelling. It’s very much pure, peaceful and family friendly, with endearing characters and wholesome moments. The adventures the lead characters are on aren’t quite the same level adventures as say Spirited Away, and there is no massive obstacle to overcome. It’s not a conflicting or tragic story, but is an honest reflection and heartfelt celebration of life and its little adventures. It changes in terms of the plot in the third act, turning from a plot-free movie to a movie that has a real plot and a serious problem for the main characters. I found it alright, though I get if some people found this a bit jarring and out of place. It’s a very short runtime at 90 minutes but never feels rushed, it does have a slow pace that suits the story.

fp_my-neighbour-totoro_05

This is the fourth movie I’ve seen from Hayao Miyazaki, and once again his work is spectacular. The animation is breath-taking, with some spectacular and beautiful visuals. The locations in this film are terrific, from the vast and mountainous clouds, the grand and detailed fields, and the small and “haunted” houses. The landscape of rural Japan is a character in and of itself. The animation is also very creative, particularly with the creatures that the lead characters encounter. The fanciful creatures including Totoro are freshly imagined, with the 2D animation truly vivid and striking. The composed score from Joe Hisaishi is marvellous and heartwarming as it is soothing.

539787_-_c_1988_studio_ghibli_1

My Neighbor Totoro is another solid movie from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, with a heartfelt story, endearing characters, and stunning animation. I don’t quite like it as much as the other Ghibli movies I have seen thus far, but I still think that it is quite good. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Princess Mononoke (1997) Review

Mononoke_01

Princess Mononoke

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Yōji Matsuda as Ashitaka
Yuriko Ishida as San
Yūko Tanaka as Lady Eboshi
Kaoru Kobayashi as Jiko-bō
Masahiko Nishimura as Kohroku
Tsunehiko Kamijō as Gonza
Akihiro Miwa as Moro
Mitsuko Mori as Hii-sama
Hisaya Morishige as Okkoto-nushi
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

In the 14th century, the harmony that humans, animals and gods have enjoyed begins to crumble. The protagonist, young Ashitaka – infected by an animal attack, seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami. In his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth, bringing down the wrath of wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke. His attempts to broker peace between her and the humans brings only conflict.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Right after watching and loving Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, I was interested in checking out more anime films from Studio Ghibli. I’ve heard from many that Princess Mononoke was among their best, so that was the next movie I chose. I ended up loving it a lot, a large scale and engaging experience, it’s one of my favourite anime movies at the moment.

58c4a8_962cf2c88fbe41cd86976249fab77e90_mv2

Princess Mononoke really is an epic, it’s a beautiful film with an absolutely stunning story. As great as the visuals are, it was the story where the film wins me over completely. It may be a story set during what appears to be a specific period in Japan, but it also feels representative of today’s modern world. It finds a way to use its world and mythology to parallel environmental issues in the real world today, but it still manages to feel other-worldly like Ghibli movies do. There is a lot to take from Princess Mononoke, especially with its poignant and mature themes. One of the most prominent topics that the film deals with is the effects of industrialization and deforestation on nature. The dynamic of human nature (and technology) against nature itself isn’t entirely original really (especially in film), but Princess Mononoke actually provides a surprising amount of nuance, portraying both sides as having positive and negative attributes, and it’s not a simplistic good vs evil thing. Even the ‘villains’ are shown to be more than just evil people. You can easily say that the characters are all archetypes, but they are archetypes with depth nonetheless. It’s got all the wonder an adventure of previous Ghibli movies, but it’s not a movie for kids. There’s no simple innocence to this wonder, or adventurous consequence-free discovery like in Kiki’s Delivery Service. From the opening scene it become very clear that this is not an animated film for small children, it’s very much a darker animated movie, and that’s even before it gets to the striking violence. It was actually quite bold and ambitious to make a film this long, grim and nihilistic but it pays off. Despite the long runtime at around 2 hours and 15 minutes, the pacing is immaculate, neatly switching between intimate moments and grand epic battles, and never stumbling once.

princess-mononoke-v1-627985

It is incredibly directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the story itself already is an epic but the direction makes it feel that way even more so. Besides the beautiful drawings from the character designs to the landscapes and everything else in between, it feels like it could possibly be Miyazaki’s grandest in terms of scale. The hand-drawn animation is absolutely dazzling, the supernatural creatures as well as forest are vividly imagined. It’s also a surprisingly violent movie, with a lot more severed heads and arms than I was expecting. Speaking of which, the action in this movie is great, and there are many thrilling sequences watch. The powerful score from Joe Hisaishi also adds a lot to the movie.

Screen-Shot-2021-03-29-at-7.47.57-PM

Beautifully animated, dark and engaging, Princess Mononoke is a fantastic and thematic epic of an anime film. While there’s plenty of other Studio Ghibli movies I need to watch, this is currently my favourite film from them so far.

Mortal Kombat (2021) Review

MK_FP_0004.0

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Lewis Tan as Cole Young
Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade
Josh Lawson as Kano
Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden
Mehcad Brooks as Jax
Ludi Lin as Liu Kang
Chin Han as Shang Tsung
Joe Taslim as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero
Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion
Director: Simon McQuoid

Hunted by the fearsome warrior Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) finds sanctuary at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano). Training with experienced fighters Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and the rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), Cole prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions to take on the enemies from Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I have played Mortal Kombat 9, 10 and 11, I’m a fan of the series but I wasn’t confident in the upcoming live action adaptation. Video game movies aren’t known for succeeding that well, and although the Paul WS Anderson Mortal Kombat movie in 1995 was one of the better video game movies, I wasn’t sure that it would be anything beyond just okay. Despite the mixed reactions, I decided to check it out, and I’m glad I did. It had plenty of issues, but I had fun with it.

Mortal-Kombat-WP

Many people expected this already, but the story isn’t great. There are plenty of things that don’t make sense, there’s some conveniences, and there’s a ton of explosion that is given by multiple characters. However I was constantly entertained by what was going on that it didn’t really matter. The first act is introducing characters and the story, and the third act is the climax with a lot of fighting, the weaker link is the second act. During this the pacing suffers and the movie can drag quite a bit. In the movie, a tournament is coming that could decide the fate of earth, so the main characters have to prepare to be Earth’s champions for said tournament. In a sense, that means that this movie is a more of a setup to the coming tournament, which will actually happen in the sequel. It does mean that the climax of this movie does feel like it is missing something at the end, even if it is enjoyable. This movie definitely has sequel bait, however I’m actually interested in a sequel so I guess it works.

mortal-kombat-reboot

Now about the tone. I can see some people saying that this movie has a dark take and is actively trying to avoid being cheesy. While it certainly is more serious than the 90s Mortal Kombat movies, I was constantly entertained for what it was. So many of the dialogue and moments were so cheesy and silly that it still felt reasonably self aware. There’s so many things that were here that were really silly and ridiculous that for most of the movie, I couldn’t take it seriously (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). The one confusing aspect with regard to tone is with its opening scene. This scene is a flashback involving the character Scorpion, and it’s actually the best scene in the movie. It is dark in tone, it’s shot and performed greatly. It feels like a genuinely great martial arts movie with some fantasy elements. Then that scene ends, and the tone switches and doesn’t change again. It legit felt like a different director was brought in to do that scene, or that it was from a completely different movie entirely. So in a way that’s a positive and a negative. Mortal Kombat is pretty faithful to the video games they are based on, more so than the 90s film at least. There are plenty of references to the lore, the world and other characters that fans will recognise. There’s also moves, lines and other references which fans will really appreciate. There’s particularly a rather meta joke involving Liu Kang and Kano during a practice fight which I loved. If you’re not a Mortal Kombat fan you could probably still enjoy the movie but you won’t quite get the full experience that fans would have. Also it might just be me, but with some of the absurd things that happen in this movie I just thought that it was very typical for Mortal Kombat, which is why I was willing to go along with them.

Mortal-kombat-shang-tsung

The acting for the most part isn’t great, but they are decent, and they were cast to almost near perfection. There’s a surprising amount of iconic Mortal Kombat characters in here, including Sonya Blade, Jax, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Raiden, and Kano. The villains were also greatly done here with Kabal, Mileena, Kabal, Shang Tsung, and Sub Zero. This movie particularly did a great job of showcasing them, showing off their powers, fighting styles and overall characters and personalities greatly. The standouts out of all of the characters for me were Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Kano. Hiroyuki Sanada isn’t in the movie a ton as Scorpion, but the casting is great and he’s really good when on screen. Joe Taslim as Sub Zero is the closest thing to a main villain for this movie (even though Shang Tsung is really the big bad), and he was a great screen presence. Kano was the biggest surprise though. Josh Lawson is effortlessly entertaining, charismatic and hilarious in this role and a scene stealer for sure. Would love to see him in a Mortal Kombat sequel. There is just one issue with the actors and characters, that being Lewis Tan as the lead character Cole Young. Cole is actually an original character and not from the video games, which is fine if the filmmakers wanted to bring something new to the Mortal Kombat universe. However, he is really the audience surrogate character who is there to ask a whole lot of questions and has a lot of exposition dumped on him. Beyond Tan’s rather average performance, Cole is just not an interesting character. All there is to him is that he has a family he wants to defend, he has some hidden power with him which he discovers by the end, and that’s literally it. There is no other characteristic or personality trait that he has, and he especially suffers when just about every other character is at least memorable in some way.

mortal-kombat-2021-pic-of-characters

This movie is directed by Simon McQuoid. This is his first feature film, with his past work being from working on commercials. For a filmmaking debut, it’s decent enough. One thing that does hold the movie back a bit is that the budget is at $50 million which is pretty low for a blockbuster, especially one from Warner Bros. In some ways with the way things are shown, it does feel like a high budget fan film, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. People are here for fight and action scenes, and they absolutely deliver. They are violent, choreographed well, and energetic and exciting to watch. Speaking about violent, one of the notable differences between this and the 90s movies is the blood and gore, with this version having an R rating. The Mortal Kombat games are known for the over the top level of violence from the fighting and especially the fatalities. This movie has the freedom now to represent that on the big screen. At the same time, it was done with the right balance. It’s definitely a priority to include that, but it didn’t feel forced, and they also knew when to hold back, if only to space them out a bit. So people hoping for some brutal kills will be satisfied here. The visual effects aren’t that great (something brought down by the lower budget), but I thought they were good enough for this movie, especially the ice effects. Something that does bring down the action scenes a bit was the editing. Thankfully it wasn’t in a Taken 3 sort of way where it has 10 cuts within 4 seconds of an action scene. It was more like that sometimes it quickly cuts from one fight to another fight, it does this a bit too much and it just felt jarring. Benjamin Wallfisch composes the score, and while it isn’t as memorable or iconic as the music from the 90s movie, it still works well enough here.

mortal-kombat-film

Mortal Kombat is not a great movie, I would not confidentially call it a good movie either. It’s a bit of a mess in many areas including the story and even some of the technical aspects. With that said, I enjoyed it quite a lot. The fight scenes are energetic and satisfying, the Mortal Kombat characters are portrayed well and enjoyable to watch, and the silliness really added to the whole experience. If you are a fan of Mortal Kombat, I do think that you’ll have some fun with this. If you aren’t a fan but enjoy action movies and don’t mind them being a bit messy, I think you’ll at least like some of it. I’m actually looking forward to a sequel, I just hope they learn the right lessons from this movie.

Crimson Peak (2015) Review

Crimson-Peak

Crimson Peak

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing
Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe
Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe
Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael
Jim Beaver as Carter Cushing
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) ignores her father’s warning and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When she arrives at the Sharpe mansion, she learns about her husband’s secrets and realises that the place is teeming with ghosts.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak got quite a mixed reception upon its release, mostly because of expectations. I was one of group of people who really liked it, and I liked it even more when I watched it again. On a writing, acting and especially directing level, I thought it was great and I was invested throughout.

Crimson Peak

First of all, Crimson Peak is not really a horror movie, horror is really the secondary genre for this movie. Don’t look at the trailers because they are misleading, and don’t really accurately represent the movie. It’s also not a straight up ghost story, there are plenty of grotesque ghosts but they serve more as a backdrop to the real plot, in a similar way as another ghost story from Guillermo del Toro named The Devil’s Backbone. Whereas that movie was a drama mystery containing horror elements, Crimson Peak is a gothic and period piece romance film that has horror elements. The story is a gothic fairy tale, and a masterfully crafted Victorian era murder story. The atmosphere is great, and there are some well placed twists. The movie is somewhat over the top and cheesy at times, but it’s intended to be that way. It is unapologetically soap opera and embraces that at points. At the same time, it is very dark and haunting, with a good amount of tension and suspense throughout. It’s not for everyone, you get the feeling that it was really made for a niche audience. I’d say that within the first 30 minutes, you’ll be able to figure out if this movie is your thing or not.

e95b8a4cc43caf64b7e58dba787dcec1

The acting is all great, but there are mainly 3 performances who stand out the most. Mia Wasikowska plays her lead character with such humanity. Tom Hiddleston is effectively charming yet conflicted, and fits his role well. However, Jessica Chastain was the actor that stood out the most for me in the cast. As her character she’s unnerving, campy, evil and unhinged, and she played her role fantastically. Other actors in the supporting cast including Charlie Hunnam also play their parts well in their screentime.

crimsonpeak4

Guillermo del Toro’s direction is great as to be expected, especially on a visual level. The cinematography adds another layer to the whole picture, with its well staged shots and gorgeous aesthetics (especially the use of red). The lighting is perfect while the use of colours is fabulous, while the camera movements, angles and transitions are smoothly carried out. It really makes you feel like you’re in a different world. The set and costume designs are also incredibly detailed, the main haunted house is particularly fantastic. There’s also some creepy imagery that’s quite memorable when its present. The ghosts provide the most scares, particularly wit the jump scares. While people don’t really like jump scares, it did add some horror atmosphere and does spice up things for the audience from the slow and deliberate story. The moments of violence also stand out and punctuates the otherwise gothic fantasy feeling of the movie. The poetic score from Fernando Velazquez also fits the movie perfectly.

Crimson-Peak-Tom-Mia1

Crimson Peak is great, it’s dark, visually gorgeous, and well put together and acted. Again, it’s not for everyone. But if you are interested in watching it, go in expecting a gothic romance with horror elements, not a full on horror movie. I might be in the minority of this, but I think it’s in the stronger half of Guillermo del Toro’s filmography, and by far his most underrated film.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) Review

hellboy-ii-hellboy-ii-the-golden-army-3963065-1200-799

Hellboy 2 The Golden Army

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Fantasy Violence
Cast:
Ron Perlman as Hellboy
Selma Blair as Liz Sherman
Doug Jones as Abe Sapien
John Alexander and James Dodd as Johann Krauss
Seth MacFarlane as Johann Krauss (voice)
Luke Goss as Prince Nuada Silverlance
Anna Walton as Princess Nuala
Jeffrey Tambor as Tom Manning
John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm
Director: Guillermo del Toro

The evil Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) is hell-bent on bringing the Golden Army to life, which will help him to conquer the world. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his team join forces to defeat the callous ruler.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The first Hellboy movie released back in 2004 was quite good, it was a unique and weirder comic book movie for the time, was really entertaining, and worked really well, largely working because of Guillermo del Toro’s direction and of course Ron Perlman as the titular character. It’s hard to imagine it but Hellboy 2 manages to be on another level over the first movie. It improves in just about every level from the characters, the story, the direction, everything.

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (aka Hellboy 2)

Ⓒ Universal

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army much like the first movie is another large scale epic world ending story, however you really notice some stark differences. First of all, whereas the first movie was supernatural and gothic, The Golden Army leans into being more fantasy. Additionally, as much as I liked the first Hellboy, there were parts of it that felt like del Toro was a little constrained, despite some of the unique aspects that he added. An example is the human character of Myers (played by Ruper Evans), who was positioned as the main character, central protagonist, and audience surrogate for the movie. He really did feel like a studio-mandated addition rather than anything anyone in the film cared about, and pretty much everyone agrees that film could’ve done without him. It seems that del Toro is one of those people who agreed, since Myers written out of the sequel, with a couple of lines explaining about how he was moved to Antarctica. With this moment, you can really tell that del Toro is having a lot more freedom with this movie, and was really making a pure del Toro movie rather than a movie that’s just mostly del Toro. The first Hellboy felt quite dense and expositional with its story, even if I enjoyed watching it. The sequel however has a far more free moving story that feels attached to the compelling plot and is well structured, but manages to effortlessly add themes as well as intimate and character moments in between it all that. The movie has a thematical and emotional core and you actually feel for the human sides of these characters. Hellboy 2 also has way more personality and charm than its predecessor. It takes itself a lot more seriously than the first Hellboy, but also has its fair share of jokes and humour, especially with sharp and witty dialogue. Hellboy 1 had humour but it’s more noticeable here and in a good way, it’s actually partly key to the film’s success. It’s often times character-based humour and makes them more endearing, rather than just going for an easy laugh. With an astounding balance of tone and an engaging story, Hellboy 2 just gets it all right.

hellboy-2-golden-army

The cast and characters are all great. Ron Perlman is once again perfect as Hellboy, his work in the first film was already solid but he really makes the character his own in The Golden Army. His character is more interesting, whereas he could’ve disappeared under all the prosthetics and makeup, his performance here feels even more honest and confident. The rest of the cast and characters are where you notice the greatest improvements however. With the supporting characters, the first movie didn’t give them much room to grow (and was also saddled with an incredibly generic and forgettable audience surrogate). They changed that here and allowed their characters to be explored a little more. Selma Blair as Liz Sherman was decent in the first movie but felt rather underdeveloped, and it felt like they didn’t really know what to do with her character. Here she’s a lot more well realised and was great. One of the best characters in the first Hellboy was Doug Jones as Abe Sapien, unfortunately he’s not in that movie much and didn’t have that much involvement with the story, not beyond the first half anyways. Here, he’s one of the main characters, that was definitely welcome, and the script really gave Doug Jones a lot to do. Interestingly in the first movie, Jones only performed the physical part, while David Hyde Pierce provided the voice. In Hellboy 2 though, Jones gets to play vocal duties as well and gives such a great performance, among his best work. Jones also played a couple of other characters that had prosthetics, and as to be expected, he plays those roles very well too. The new additions of actors and characters were good too. The character Johann Krauss was a surprisingly solid and unique addition to the cast. He’s an interesting character, whose values and overall personality directly challenge and differ with Hellboy’s, leading to a lot of conflict between the two. Krauss overall is also quite a unique character for both the Hellboy movies and other comic book movies, I particularly like the moments when the film takes advantage of his powers. Seth MacFarlane voiced Krauss and I think this is actually his best work to date. Despite playing him with a hammy German accent, he plays the role surprisingly straight faced (or rather straight voiced) and was more reserved than you’d expect from him. One of the weakest parts of the first Hellboy was the villains, specifically the lead villain Rasputin. This time in Hellboy 2, Luke Goss plays the villain, and he’s a much more interesting villain this time around, he was actually somewhat memorable and fitted the story quite well.

6a00d83451be5969e2026bde9238e0200c

Guillermo del Toro directed Hellboy 2, and you really notice a step up 4 years between the two movies. He was key to the success of the first movie, without him, audiences would not have gotten such an original and iconic on this character. Don’t forget that del Toro got more freedom and a higher budget this time round, and he thankfully took great advantage of this. The film boasts some gorgeous cinematography and production designs. The Golden Army is definitely a more fantastical story instead of a fantastical one, and the aesthetic really benefits from that too. There’s also some amazing digital and practical effects, that mostly hold up quite well today. The designs of characters, monsters and creatures are also fantastic. Right after making Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro went all in with the creative designs of creatures and monsters. From the design of the elves to the Golden Army themselves, to even some of the slightly altered designs of Hellboy and Abe, they look incredible. There’s particularly a segment that takes place in a Troll Market, which mixes digital and practical effects and feels like a showcase of all the amazing effects that it had to offer. The action is fast paced, well filmed and very entertaining. The score by Danny Elfman was quite good as well, and fits the rest movie well.

hellboy-ii-the-golden-army

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army is an incredibly entertaining and well-made comic book movie, taking what made the first Hellboy so good and improving on both its strong and weaker points. It has an entertaining fantastical story, a greater grasp of the characters, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s direction with noticeably more freedom. They all come together to form one of del Toro’s strongest works. One of the biggest cinematic disappointments is that del Toro never got to make Hellboy 3, he clearly had such a great handle on the characters and would’ve been wonderful to have seen that happen.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Review

pans-labyrinth_25946[1]

Pan's Labyrinth

Time:  119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Ivana Baquero as Ofelia/Princess Moanna
Sergi López as Captain Vidal
Maribel Verdú as Mercedes
Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man
Ariadna Gil as Carmen
Álex Angulo as Doctor Ferreiro
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) moves with her mother to her stepfather’s house. At night, a fairy leads her to a faun who informs her that she is a princess and she needs to participate in three tasks to prove her royalty.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Pan’s Labyrinth has often been hailed as director Guillermo del Toro’s best film and for good reason. It’s an incredibly directed and intelligently written dark fantasy film, with outstanding visual effects and some great performances. Even over a decade later it holds up very well, and remains a classic for sure.

panslabyrinth42[1]

Pan’s Labyrinth is essentially a fairy tale for adults. The premise about a child entering a fantasy world in order to make sense and escape from their troubled and difficult reality is pretty much textbook fantasy. And yet, del Toro handles this so well and still makes this movie feel completely original. First of all, this is no family friendly or sanitised fairy tale. It’s not just some of the creatures that the main character encounters on her journey, but also the grimness and bleakness of the reality she’s living in. Pan’s Labyrinth is very much a spiritual successor to del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. The script is very nuanced, and the fantasy is juxtaposed against the Spanish Civil War and the realities of fascism, with effective parallels between the two. The true villains of the story are actual fascists, not the fantasy monsters in the fantasy world. The movie also doesn’t feel overly fantasised or overly realistic, a decent balance is struck between the two. A clear theme of the movie is growing up and losing innocence, which isn’t particularly special especially with films with similar premises, but nonetheless that was handled very well in this movie. Del Toro creates a world where both the real and fiction can coexist. It’s very well paced across its 2 hour runtime. The plot isn’t exactly unpredictable, but it still keeps you invested in everything that is happening, and the ending hits very hard.

Movies_Films_L__El_Laberinto_del_Fauno_010146_[1]

The cast were all great across the board. Ivana Baquero plays the main character of Ofelia and she was fantastic. Baquero is a child actress who was tasked to carry a lot by herself. Even with how great the rest of the movie was, Pan’s Labyrinth wouldn’t have quite as well if she wasn’t up to the task. However she doesn’t falter and delivers a nuanced and believable performance which makes her journey over the course of the movie much more affecting. Sergi Lopez plays the ruthless Captain Vidal, who also happens to be Ofelia’s stepfather. He’s quite a threatening presence throughout the film. The Pale Man in his scene may be terrifying, but Vidal is the true bogeyman of this story. Maribel Verdu was also very good as a conflicted housekeeper. Doug Jones plays both The Faun and The Pale Man, and even through all the prosthetics gave such great and memorable performances. The rest of the cast also deliver on their parts.

02_047[1]

Guillermo del Toro’s direction is nothing short of outstanding. The cinematography by Guillermo Navarro is great, with cool blues and warm golds. It balances out both the grittiness and gloominess of its bleak setting in reality, as well as the fantastical setting. There is some gorgeous set design throughout, and there was clearly a lot of care and precision into the creation of this world. Much of the film feels very real. Even 14 years later, most of the visual effects still hold up quite well. What helps is that most of the effects were prosthetics and animatronics, and the CGI was used sparingly. The makeup and effects particularly on the Faun and The Pale Man are beautiful and mystical. The few moments of CGI don’t quite hold up, there’s particularly a scene involving a toad, which did look quite fake. On the whole though, the effects are great. The score by Javier Navarrete is really good too, mesmerising and very haunting.

panspaleman[1]

There’s not much more I can say about Pan’s Labyrinth that hasn’t been said before. This dark fantasy movie intended for adults is beautifully made, haunting, and incredibly well made. Definitely Guillermo del Toro’s best film to date. Watch it if you haven’t seen it before, the acclaim is 100% deserved.

Hellboy (2004) Review

13DIK3beAoroeJSdrcYm66s6hal

kinopoisk.ru

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains medium level violence
Cast:
Ron Perlman as Hellboy
John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm
Selma Blair as Liz Sherman
Rupert Evans as John “Johnny” Myers
Karel Roden as Grigori Rasputin
Jeffrey Tambor as Tom Manning
Doug Jones as Abe Sapien
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Towards the end of WWII, the Nazis resort to black magic and conjure a demonic-looking being called Hellboy (Ron Perlman). But the Allies capture him and he grows up to fight against evil rather than for it.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I’ve been meaning to go back and watch the Hellboy movies from Guillermo del Toro again, especially after the more recent and underwhelming reboot. I remembered liking them quite a bit, and as it turns out they actually hold up quite well today. Despite some of its script faults, 2004’s Hellboy is a very fun fantasy comic book movie.

B000T46NOE_Hellboy_UXSY1._V391275702_SX1080_

Hellboy opens quite well and for the most works consistently well across its 2 hour runtime. It’s very entertaining, and creative, and the source material is perfect for del Toro to take on. The script is witty with some good lines and humour, the story is well paced, and it has a lot of fantasy and even noir aspects to it. It’s also heartfelt and genuine and establishes itself as a unique and larger than life comic book movie with a great atmosphere. Also keep in mind that this is back in 2004, so you can imagine how much of an impact and hit it would’ve been back then. Hellboy also does well as establishing its universe, though I feel like they could’ve done that without a human stand in character. It’s not all great though. The story isn’t really anything special, it’s a typical fantasy world ending plot that’s a bit predictable. It really doesn’t reach its fullest potential. Not all the characters are greatly handled. Hellboy of course is fantastic, but the human characters are particularly thinly developed and are quite bland, more on that later. Also maybe a slight nitpick, but it did feel like it ended a little abruptly, like there needed to be an extra scene right before it ended, but that’s a small gripe.

Hellboy II - The Golden Army - 2008

The cast do a good job in their parts, even though some of them were restricted by the writing of their respective characters. Of course the big standout is Ron Perlman as Hellboy and he absolutely owns this role. His performance is larger than life, funny, likable, and well realised, and you can tell that Perlman is enjoying every second of it. It’s just hard seeing anyone else in the role. Selma Blair’s performance is good too, though her character does suffer from some confusion with the writing and characterisation, and not enough time spent with her. The love story between her character and Hellboy does actually work quite well though, and the actors share convincing chemistry. Doug Jones (along with the voice of David Hyde Pierce) plays Abe Sapien, an amphibious humanoid (and unsurprisingly plays him with a lot of makeup and visual effects). His character is the most memorable in the movie after Hellboy by far, and he really stands out in the scenes. Unfortunately his character doesn’t show up much in the movie, at least compared to the sequel. As I said earlier, the human characters were rather unremarkable. The biggest example is Rupert Evans as Myers, the lead human character. This character was bland, uninteresting, and very much felt like he was only there to be the audience’s insight into this world. However it’s easy to connect with Hellboy that we didn’t need that. It’s no surprise that when it came to the sequel, there was no stand in human character like that. John Hurt is in here as Hellboy’s father figure. The character himself doesn’t have a lot to him, but John Hurt as you’d expect does a lot with very little and elevates it. The villain side of the characters was rather forgettable. Karel Roden is okay as Rasputin (the main villain) but the character never really felt much of a threat, some of the side villains and monsters posed much more of a threat and were memorable than him. There’s a henchman who’s a Nazi and has a gas mask with blades, and he had far more presence as a threat than Rasputin.

2412366127_221521bdfc_b

Guillermo del Toro directs this, and he was a great pick to helm a live action adaptation of the Hellboy comics. He directed this with such style and there was such attention to details, nothing here felt lazy. There are some solid cinematography and production design, with HP Lovecraft meets steampunk aesthetics. There are some excellent visual and practical effects here, and the best part is how del Toro blend the two. The creatures were particularly well handled, as if the movie was a full on creature feature. There are parts that don’t look so great, but considering that it was made back in 2004, it has held up quite well. The action scenes are riveting too, and are very entertaining to watch. The makeup is great, particularly with Hellboy and Abe Sapien. The score from Marco Beltrami was quite good, and added a lot to the movie.

hellboy-imdb

Hellboy is an entertaining and creative fantasy action movie, greatly directed by Guillermo del Toro, and features a perfect performance from Ron Perlman as Hellboy. I wouldn’t rank it as one of the best comic book movies, but it’s pretty good when looking at most of the comic books released in the 2000s, in fact it was ahead of its time. If you haven’t watched Hellboy yet, I strongly recommend doing so.

Blade 2 (2002) Review

blade-2-wesley-snipes

Blade 2

Time: 117 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Ron Perlman as Dieter Reinhardt
Leonor Varela as Nyssa Damaskinos
Norman Reedus as Scud
Thomas Kretschmann as Eli Damaskino
Luke Goss as Jared Nomak
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A rare mutation gives birth to a new vampire community called the Reapers, who attack both humans and vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes), along with an elite vampire force, is asked to wipe out the Reaper’s population.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The first Blade turned out to be quite a success, and nowadays would be considered an underrated comic book movie. There were definitely some noticeable issues, but it seemed like it would be hard to top that with a sequel. Well Blade 2 did that with Guillermo del Toro, which takes the first movie and improves on it in many ways.

3721571-6658408598-blade

Blade 2 definitely benefits from the fact that it doesn’t need to establish much of its universe like the first one did, even though that movie did handle the worldbuilding pretty well. The plot and overall movie is very fast paced, not leaving us with a moment to feel bored. Strangely enough one of the opening scenes started with a recap of the first movie by Wesley Snipes as Blade. It did take me a while to get used to the style, especially in Blade’s first action scene. After that point though, I got used to it. Now the movie is definitely less about the characters, and there’s nothing about Blade’s backstory here. Not that it’s bad but it definitely has a different focus compared to the first movie. It’s a much darker movie too, the first Blade had a dark atmosphere but it was quite cheesy at the same time. There are for sure some entertaining moments and some notable one liners but it’s definitely a different tone. A big part of that is the emphasis on horror, stronger than in the first movie, while remaining very much an action movie. The plot is a lot more focussed, there aren’t many subplots going on, and it’s very straightforward. I wouldn’t say the plot is great or anything, but it’s good enough for this movie.

8GE5fnZUBKHqKnFZtOZrbEDoka3

Wesley Snipes is as usual fantastic as Blade, he’s great at playing him both with the character with the charisma, the fight scenes and in delivering the lines perfectly. It’s hard seeing anyone else play the character. Kris Kristofferson is back as Whistler after he was assumed dead in the last movie. In the first Blade, Whistler got to do a couple things but here he manages to do a lot more, and he’s great. The supporting cast are good too, with the likes of Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus, and Leonor Varela. The villain played by Luke Goss was certainly more scary and threatening than Deacon Frost from the first Blade, but as the character and performance was less memorable. Still, he was different enough as a character to make him a decent antagonist for Blade to go up against.

blade-2-ron-perlman-wesley-snipes[1]

The key reason this movie works so well is director Guillermo del Toro. He added a lot of his own style into the movie, and it really makes it stand apart to the first movie. One of the things that you notice early on is that the lighting and colour really stands out, it’s a stunning movie to watch. The action scenes are also filmed differently, the editing is a lot more fast paced, and I think that’s what took me a while to get used to. After that first action scene though, I really liked them. The CGI is great sometimes, and pretty fake at other times, even looking a bit dated. The CGI especially stands out as being awkward when it’s meant to be representing people fighting. There’s particularly one action scene in front of lights which has moments where Wesley Snipes gets replaced with an animated version of Wesley Snipes, and he just looks really fake and cartoonish. Though this doesn’t take away from the action too much. As I said earlier, Blade 2 leans into the horror aspect a lot more than the first movie. In the first Blade it had some horror aspects, mainly to do with the vampire stuff. Here the vampires are a lot scarier, especially with the additions of the reapers. The monster designs are creative and very well detailed, and pretty much what you can expect from a del Toro movie.

blade-2-cast[1]

Blade 2 is a really entertaining and faced paced action and horror movie, which really works greatly with the addition of Guillermo del Toro as director. The 2 Blade movies are roughly on the same level, stronger in some aspects, weaker in others. All in all, I slighter prefer the second movie, but I highly recommend checking out both movies if you haven’t already.