Tag Archives: Selma Blair

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Hellboy (2004) Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Mom and Dad (2018) Review

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan
Robert T. Cunningham as Damon
Olivia Crocicchia as Riley
Brionne Davis as Tanner
Samantha Lemole as Jenna
Lance Henriksen as Mel Ryan
Director: Brian Taylor

Definitely something terrible is happening on in the peaceful suburban community as, one day to another, former loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter (not only in the neighborhood but also in the entire nation) must to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.

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I was interested in Mom and Dad, mainly because its Nicolas Cage going absolutely crazy in a movie where he tries to kill his children, directed by one of the directors of Crank. It sounded absolutely nuts and I was on board with it. I wasn’t really sure what the actual movie would be like, I just knew Cage would be nuts and I heard that the movie is actually pretty good for the movie that it is, and that’s pretty much the case. Mom and Dad is an weird, insane darkly comic horror movie, which is quite entertaining and surprisingly works. Its two lead performances however are what makes it really work.

The first 20 minutes of the movie are setting up things before the whole “everyone tries to kill their children” epidemic happens. While the writing and dialogue can feel a little iffy, most of this is to establish the similarities between this situation and the troubled relationships between parents and kids. After that 20 minute mark though, that’s when the children murdering epidemic starts, and it doesn’t let up after that. There isn’t any clear explanation for why parents are killing their children, theories are thrown around and that’s it. That really worked for me personally, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot. The movie keeps things reasonably straightforward, the plot isn’t convoluted and the characters are really simple. The writing itself is basic enough but it works. The Crank movies at times can have some bad writing but for the most part you don’t see that in Mom and Dad (with the exception of one supporting character which was pretty much written to be a stereotype). Now it is worth noting that this is a dark comedy, because so much of what happens is so violent and over the top that it does much more than just border on hilarity, the humour is a big part of the movie. It’s not a straight up scary horror movie. It doesn’t take things too seriously but there is some subtext with the parents’ frustrations even before the epidemic starts, especially with flashbacks with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. While most movies (especially bigger movies) would have the parents be loving and all that before their rampage, they already establish them as being very unstable and not having the best of relationships with the children, which I think works well and makes it more effective. Mom and Dad is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that really worked, there’s enough time to set up the characters and everything up before the epidemic starts, and after that point it’s entertaining right till the end. I will say though that a disappointing aspect was the ending. While I understand why they wanted to end on the note that they do, its rather abrupt and I wanted something a little more.

Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are a big part of why this movie works. Sure the story concept sounds entertaining enough but it requires really convincingly unhinged performances to make it work, and they really brought it. They play both very convincing frustrated parents before the epidemic, as well as completely psychopathic parents who want to kill their children during the epidemic. Of course Nicolas Cage particularly stand out (as he would being Nicolas Cage), from the very beginning he’s crazy and has the movie goes on he just gets more and more crazy, and sometimes it can lead to some hilarious moments. I’m not going to reveal most of his big moments, but one of his stand out moments is when he screams the hokey pokey song while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 2018 seems to be a comeback for Cage, with both this and Mandy. With that said, Selma Blair’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either because she’s great as well. While Cage has a mix of being scary and funny, Blair comes across as being convincingly scary and unhinged. The kids of Cage and Blair played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are okay, they serve their purposes well enough.

This movie is directed by Brian Taylor, who was involved with directing the Crank movies as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Mark Neveldine, and if you have seen these movies, you’ll definitely pick that up watching Mom and Dad. Now there aren’t crazy stunts being done or anything, but he does bring the style from his previous movies here, with the editing, cinematography and all that. Some of the crazy and wild camera movements might be a little too much for some people (here it’s a little incomprehensible at times), but for those who have seen the Crank movies, it’s much more tame in comparison. This movie does not hold back at all, especially with the violence. It is brutal, and really ballsy considering much of the movie’s violence shown is against children. With that said it’s not nearly as bloody as you’d think it would be, I can’t tell whether it should’ve been more bloody or if the less is more approach was better. The music used can get a little repetitive and annoying, especially during the intense and violent scenes.

Mom and Dad is a completely nuts, darkly comedic horror movie, that’s simple but effective. The unhinged performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair really make the movie work as well as it does. If you’re a big fan of Nicolas Cage, this is a must see movie. If you’re up for a darkly comic and over the top made by one of the directors of Crank, this might be right up your alley. Just know that if you are going to watch Mom and Dad, don’t take it too seriously.