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Hellboy (2019) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
David Harbour as Hellboy/Anung Un Rama
Milla Jovovich as Vivienne Nimue/Blood Queen
Ian McShane as Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm
Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan
Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio
Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson
Director: Neil Marshall

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy (David Harbour), caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress (Milla Jovovich) bent on revenge.

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Hellboy 2019 was a movie I wasn’t certain about going into it. Everyone wanted a Hellboy 3 with Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman, and I was one of these people. A Hellboy reboot wasn’t exactly what I was wanting. With that said, they cast David Harbour as Hellboy, had Ian McShane as part of the cast, and had Neil Marshall directing, so I was cautiously optimistic. Despite the trailers looking a little rough, I was hoping it was good. Even after the overwhelming negative response to the movie, I was hoping to at least be entertained by it. While I didn’t necessarily hate it like so many people did, it really was worse than I thought it would actually be.

I should mention that my knowledge of the Hellboy characters and world only comes from the Del Toro movies. So I’m treating this movie as its own movie (it already has enough problems as it is). 2 hours feels like a standard length for a comic book movie, yet it somehow manages to draw the plot out really long, the pacing is really slow. It takes about 30 minutes for the movie to really start with the actual main plot of the movie, and really it takes another 30 minutes after that for Hellboy to really get involved with it. Even after that point it feels unnecessarily long and drawn out, not to mention it fails to be engaging on any level. There are so many random and lazy expositions dumps given by characters it’s actually astounding, I’m pretty sure I checked out after the 5th one. The opening scene is an example, where it just has Ian McShane just talking about something that happened in the past with the main villain, Arthur and Merlin, and he just explains everything that happened in the past. Not that I don’t like a McShane narration, but from that point I really knew that something was off. This movie is yet another movie that has been hit by a bad case of studio interference, and you can feel it throughout, however it’s really hard to tell at times which was what parts were originally filmed and which were changed. The tone is all over the place, at some points it’s trying to be serious (it doesn’t work), at other points it’s trying to be witty and quippy like it’s trying to be a Marvel movie or something (that also doesn’t work). At points it’s also trying to be edgy, however it’s not quite like the 2019 Shaft type of edgy where the movie thinks it’s so incredible and hilarious when it does it. When Hellboy 2019 does it, it almost feels like thrown in and obligatory.

Despite the long runtime there are at least a number of scenes that were cut out and altered, especially from the trailers. If you watched the later trailers you probably saw a moment with Hellboy on a dragon with a flaming sword, don’t expect much from that scene, because it only lasts like 30 seconds. The trailer really does showcase the best moments, and unfortunately they mostly look worse in the actual movie. I checked out a few of the deleted scenes online just out of curiosity. One of the most notable scenes was an alternative version of that aforementioned opening flashback scene, where instead of having McShane just narrating everything that’s happening in an overly explaining way, you have characters like Milla Jovovich’s character and Arthur and Merlin actually speaking their lines, and it was considerably better. Now I’m not sure if including all those (and no doubt more) deleted/original scenes would’ve fixed most of the problems, but the movie would’ve been at least a little better. Throughout most of the movie I just felt nothing, and I didn’t particularly care about the plot or the characters. I wasn’t even fussed about potential parts of the plot that didn’t make sense, at this point I would’ve accepted a dumb movie and didn’t even get that. It’s really just a couple of action scenes that were the highlights. The first involved giants but had its own set of problems (more on that later). The other was towards the end (partially shown in the trailer as well), it’s a tracking shot action scene and it had more energy than the entire rest of the movie beforehand. Also if you really care enough, this movie has a couple credits scenes, as it seems they are very much keen on setting up for sequels. However it seems very unlikely that they’ll produce any form of media following up on this movie as a sequel.

Casting anyone for Hellboy that’s not Ron Perlman seemed an impossible task, he played the role perfectly in the Guillermo del Toro movies. David Harbour was however a great alternative and pretty good casting. He definitely does the best that he can with what he has, unfortunately he’s not exactly given the best material to work with. His character wasn’t exactly defined well and his arc just had him jumping around with him making sudden random character choices for some reasons, with some pretty lacking development. Ian McShane is always good to see in movies and Hellboy 2019 is no exception, however I didn’t really buy the connection between the two characters despite this movie’s efforts. Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae Kim are decent enough in their roles, but again aren’t given that much to work with. Milla Jovovich plays the villain and she’s one of those over the top taking over the world sort of villains where you can’t really do much with them. In her situation, you could either look like you don’t want to be there or ham up the role, and Jovovich does the latter. She’s really not good but again there’s really not much that she could really do with the little she’s given.

Neil Marshall directed this movie, and I’ve liked the movies I’ve seen from him However there are multiple parts with his direction which didn’t work, but I’m not entirely sure I can put it fully on him. Apparently there were disagreements. You can definitely tell that the budget is lower than the Del Toro movies from even just looking at this movie. Despite it being R rated, it’s kind of generic and dull somehow. As for the actual blood, there are some violent moments every so often in the first two acts but aside from some exceptions, some of it looks like it could be edited down to a ‘hard’ PG-13. It’s very much the CGI and fake looking kind of blood, and yes, when it’s on screen they are excessive with it and it honestly kind of feels lazy and over reliant. At the same time, they’re oddly enough not in the movie as much as I thought it would be. The third act is where the blood suddenly is ramped up, even though there are some other bloody moments in this section of the movie, it cuts to the city and has a full minute of people getting brutally murdered by giant monsters for whatever reason (maybe they thought that there wasn’t enough blood so just added it in at the last moment?). The second trailer at least seemed to indicate a really over the top and goofy hard R rated flick. Unfortunately, it seems that trailer had over 10 times more energy compared to that in the actual movie.

The CGI really is a mixed bag, at some points it looks pretty good, at others it looks really bad. For example in one of the highlights of the movie where Hellboy fights some giants, the environments and the giants themselves just look really off and it’s very distracting. The cinematography is so bland, and there are points where the movie looks flat out ugly, and no not in a good way. With the exception of a few moments, generally the look of the movie is pretty bland and colourless. More often than not, the only red thing on screen is Hellboy himself. On the other hand, the creature designs for the most part are creative and good. I know that a lot of people don’t like the design of Hellboy and think it makes him look ugly and all that, but honestly I liked the whole idea of trying to make him more monstrous. A more R rated horror take on Hellboy would’ve been interesting to see, but if they ever planned or even filmed some of that, it’s not in the final product at all. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch was pretty good, but the other song choices for certain sections were a little weird. It’s not even the few certain song choices, it’s just that there are so many cases where they put known songs in some of the scenes and it was kind of distracting.

Hellboy 2019 was quite a disappointment, and I wasn’t necessarily expecting much from it. By the time I got around to watching it, I was expecting at worst to be Venom levels of absurd silliness, but it couldn’t even reach that level. I’m not even sure what they were really trying to do with this movie, it doesn’t even seem to know what it’s trying to be. It really did seem like one of those 2000s comic book movies that were a misfire, and didn’t really work on any level. The cast were mostly fine with David Harbour and Ian McShane being pretty good, and I liked some of the action, but nothing else in the movie really works unfortunately. Maybe watch the aforementioned action scene with the giants and the ending when these clips come out online, but it’s really not worth watching the full 2 hour long movie. Instead if you haven’t seen them already, I’d recommend watching the two Hellboy movies from Guillermo del Toro, they are considerably better.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell as George Stacy
Director: Sam Rami

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship, but trouble looms for the superhero and his lover. Peter’s Spider-Man suit turns black and takes control of him, not only giving Peter enhanced power but also bringing out the dark side of his personality. Peter must overcome the suit’s influence as two supervillains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), rise up to destroy him and all those he holds dear.

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Spider-Man 3 unlike it’s previous entries has received a lot of negativity from critics and fans alike. I’m part of the minority of people who really like this movie. I liked the story, the acting, and Sam Rami’s direction, just like with the previous Spider-Man movies. But of course I’m not going to act like it doesn’t have a lot of problems, there is way too much in this movie, which ultimately holds back the movie from being as great as it could be. Despite this, many aspects of the plot itself are great, and it’s a solid movie overall.

Tonally, this is the most serious of the Rami Spider-Man movies, and with Peter going through different stages of his life throughout these movies, it did feel appropriate. There are some moments of humour though, some of them worked, others… not so much. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long, I was never really bored throughout but I definitely felt the running time, which is ironic since this movie might’ve actually needed more time. Ultimately the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that there is way too much going on. There’s Peter and Mary Jane’s romance, Sandman’s story which ties into Peter, the symbiote black suit that Peter comes in contact with and changes him, there’s Harry and Peter’s story, there is so much going on. If you want to know what went wrong, Sony basically forced Sam Rami to put the character of Venom into the movie, which is an incredible major plotline as it meant having a segment of Peter wearing the suit and also Venom being created, and there’s already so many plotlines in the movie. If Spider-Man 3 just had Mary Jane and Peter’s romance, Sandman’s story and Harry’s story, that would’ve been enough. But because of the amount of stories going on, the handling of the plotlines at times can be clumsy and poor. There are some really bad plot decisions made in the handling of the stories sometimes, for example early in the movie there’s a fight between Peter and Harry which results in Harry losing his memory, basically putting his revenge storyline on hold or about an hour, while all the other plots and subplots continue. It feels lazy and almost like a slap in the face after the buildup for this story in 2, here it almost feels like an afterthought of a subplot. There are two moments of conflict between Peter and Harry which are done very well, which shows hints of what could’ve been had that aspect been handled a lot better.

Another point of criticism is that this movie has 3 villains and while I like each of these villains, yet again, the film felt overstuffed with them. It’s like all these plotlines and villains are taking turns to have the spotlight, first its Harry, then it’s Sandman, then it’s Harry again, then it’s Venom and Sandman, it’s very jarring when it just keeps switching plotlines when the former plotlines are like put into hibernation or something. Speaking of Venom, an infamous part of the movie is how it handled the black suit plotline. Sometimes the black suit plotline really worked, like when it ties into Sandman. However it generally doesn’t reach its full potential. The film does partially take this in a more comedic direction. For example, after wearing the suit for a long period of time, Peter becomes ‘Emo Peter’, culminating in him acting all ‘edgy’ and ‘badass’ and ‘cool’, a lot of this is done for comedy. For example there are a couple of over the top scenes, one is a montage (set to the tune of ‘People get up and Drive your Funky Soul’ by James Brown), which despite it’s over the top nature I enjoyed because it is probably what would happen if a nerd like Peter grew an ego and thought he was cool. The other is full on dance routine in a Jazz Club, which is quite possibly the worst Spider-Man scene ever filmed. So obviously, mixed results. Not to say that I didn’t like it but the black suit arc really could’ve been done better. The last act, while enjoyable, is pretty rushed. Even the couple of very brief scenes after the climax seems to end incredibly quickly. Honestly while I liked all these plotlines, they definitely feel like they didn’t meet their potential, due to all of them crammed into one movie. I know I probably came across that I hated them, but the truth is that they could’ve been done a lot better.

Tobey Maguire once again is Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once again he is really good. I will say that I found myself not liking Peter early in the movie (even before he gets the black suit), especially when it came to Mary Jane, but I felt that was intentional (possibly because he was gaining a bit of an ego as Spider-Man) however that really didn’t get explored because of all the other plotlines. Now as for those 20 minutes where Peter is ‘Emo Peter’, even if you hate what was done with him, you gotta give credit to Maguire for throwing himself into what he was told to do, literally dancing in the streets with absolutely no shame at all. I even started to like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. The romance aspect, while not exactly good, is done a lot better than in the previous movies. Mary Jane isn’t used as a ‘superhero girlfriend’ like she was in the first two movies (she only needs saving once in the entire movie), here they actually start to somewhat develop her. But the romance can be a bit frustrating, not for any cheesiness but because Peter and Mary Jane do make some bad decisions in their relationship, so the romance isn’t that good. James Franco is once again good as Harry Osborn. Unfortunately for him, after a few scenes early in the movie, once Harry loses his memory he doesn’t get much to do until like the second half of the movie. Thomas Haden Church is Flint Marko/Sandman, who is for me a very underrated comic book movie villain. Like Doc Ock, he is a lot deeper and sympathetic as a character, with Marko trying to help his dying daughter. He’s also a lot more consistent with his actions, there’s no moments where he’s gleefully committing evil deeds just for the fun of it (which Doc Ock occasionally did in Spider-Man 2). Out of the three villains I felt that he was used the best. However I will say that some aspects of the resolution of his story (particularly his last scene) did feel open and not fully concluded.

Topher Grace is Eddie Brock/Venom and I’m not quite sure how to feel about him. While his human form Eddie Brock is given motivations which work okay, he’s not that compelling as a character, nor does he have enough screentime. I think the biggest problem with Venom is that Brock wasn’t that interesting or deep of a character before he turned into Venom. Also once again, Rami didn’t even want Venom in the movie, so he does feel a little out of place and is probably why we don’t get a whole lot of time with him. At the very least though, Grace acted the Eddie Brock role fine and seemed to be having a great time playing Venom, I don’t think any of the issues of the character are on him. The other supporting cast are pretty good with Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell and others. J.K. Simmons once again returns as J. Jonah Jameson, very enjoyable and entertaining as always. One role that did feel out of place was Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Bryce was fine in the role but Stacy didn’t really have much point to be there in the film (and she is a big deal in the comics). And I thought I’d mention, Bruce Campbell has the best cameo in the entire Spider-Man trilogy, he deserves a mention because he’s Bruce Campbell. And he’s awesome.

The quality of the CGI in Spider-Man 3 is around the level of Spider-Man 2. There is some noticeable green screen and fake CGI at times, but then again Spider-Man 2 did have some moments of fake CGI, so I will overlook it (not to mention Spider-Man 3 was made a decade ago). I will say that the CGI slightly worked better in 2 though, probably because it wasn’t on that large of a scale with what they tried to create and have. The CGI for the black suit and Venom was really good, visually he looked great. The action scenes were all around filmed really well, from the first fight between Peter and Harry to the climax with Spider-Man, Harry, Venom and Sandman. The last act is entertaining, aside from the CGI for Sandman, what they did with him in the third act was really over the top, and ended up being kind of silly. I liked all the soundtracks for the Spider-Man trilogy, but 3 has quite possibly my favourite from the whole trilogy, this time it’s done by Christopher Young.

I will not deny that Spider-Man 3 could’ve and should’ve been a lot better. It had a lot of potential and great ideas but they’ve all been shoved all into this movie and the film became so bloated that they had to alter and change the plotlines so that they could fit in, which really negatively affected the film overall. With that said, the movie is good, and it honestly does have some great parts to it. All the issues aside, a lot of the aspects from the first two movies with the acting, direction and even some of the story are here, so I don’t notice that much of a difference from the first two films. The storylines are at the very least okay, and the action is really great. I consider this movie on par with all the other Spider-Man movies except for 2 (2 is still by far the best Spider-Man film yet). It had some of the elements and potential of being the best Spider-Man, but having too much really held it back.