Sunday, July 13, 2008
#15: Hellboy II - The Golden Army, and #16: WALL-E
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola
Released July 11, 2008
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Written by Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter
Released June 27, 2008
After spending so many days cooped up in my apartment, I decided to take my show on the road and catch a couple of movies in their natural habitat: the theater. There's a giant 24-screen multiplex in Omaha where I typically go, and the plan is usually to pay for one movie and then see two.
Today, the plan was for three movies: Hellboy II, WALL-E and Hancock. By buying my ticket before 11 a.m., the plan was to catch 3 movies for $4.
By the time WALL-E had ended, I had been so assaulted by Summer Movie Mania that I had broken into a cold sweat and had taken my shoes off multiple times to release the tension. I'm crapping you negative. After working four nights in a row of 13 hour shifts, I was in entertainment overload.
Quite frankly, I'm still exhausted. That's why I'm going to be keeping things short tonight.
Hellboy II, from visionary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone), sees the titular "monster" and his friends at the the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense battling to save the human race from an army of the underworld. Ron Perlman reprises his role as Hellboy, a role the classically trained and completely odd looking actor was born to play.
Let's cut the shit: if you loved the first movie, this one blows it right out of the water. If you're not a fan of fantasy or "comic book movies," this could very well drive you insane. Hellboy II seems almost overstuffed with characters and gadgets from del Toro's warped imagination: flesh munching fairies, mountainous rock creatures, indestructible robots and more come bursting out of every inch of the screen. Del Toro used fantasy sparingly in his masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth; here, he is completely unleashed.
Nerds will cheer. Anyone not into this sort of thing will scratch their eyes out.
WALL-E is a little more inclusive, slowly ratcheting up the action while adding heavy doses of cuteness, sweetness and humanity. Visually, it's nothing short of mindblowing.
The movie opens 800 years in the future, on a desolate, uninhabited and trash-strewn Earth. The only sign of "life" is a single cockroach and a robot whose sole purpose on the planet is to stack cubes of compacted trash higher than the abandoned skyscrapers that the humans have left behind.
Speaking of the humans, where are they? Bloated and lethargic from their lazy reliance on increasingly intelligent technology, they've been whisked into space by the monolithic corporation that virtually destroyed the planet in the first place.
The first half of the movie is virtually dialogue free, and is oddly riveting because of this fact. It's a brave directorial choice by director Andrew Stanton, and one that I wasn't sure would pay off with the kiddoes surrounding me in the theater. Amazingly, it works, and the kids and adults were both eating it up.
Eventually, WALL-E is visited by another robot, falls in love and follows "her" back to one of the corporate ships that has become the new home for the slovenly remnants of mankind. Wackiness ensues. So much wackiness, in fact, that I began to feel like I was having a bad acid trip. Again, I think this was the fault of my poor sleep schedule and not the movie itself. I left the theater incredibly pleased with WALL-E (heed the hype, it really is one of the best movies of the year), impressed and overwhelmed by Hellboy, and glad as hell to be getting a breath of fresh air as I stepped back into the sunlight.
In the end, I spared myself the Hancock and headed home to pass out.
For more on Hellboy II: The Golden Army and WALL-E:
- IMDB links for the former and the latter
- Official sites for the former (check out Guillermo del Toro's film scrapbook), and the latter. Both have links to trailers, clips and other fun stuff.