movie reviews

Unfortunately, the new Hellboy is noise and gore signifying nothing

There’s a scene about midway through Hellboy in which a giant sword goes through a monster’s head, virtually splitting it in half, unleashing a reservoir of blood, and showing some of the soft tissue underneath the skull. While taking in that moment, I thought to myself, “I think that’s what watching this movie feels like.”

I was rooting for the 2019 reboot of Hellboy. It was going to be too easy to dismiss this movie and say Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman did it better — twice — without even seeing this new version. But the wave of early reviews seemed to confirm what so many feared when this project was announced. Was there really any point to reviving Hellboy if there wasn’t anything new to offer?

Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t have a problem with remakes and reboots, even if they’re being made too often now. (Saying “Hollywood is out of ideas” is an opinion that’s run out of ideas.) Popular characters and franchises are always going to be mined for new movies and TV shows if a newer angle can be taken. And if new digital effects and moviemaking techniques can tell those stories better than their previous versions, it might just be worth doing.

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movie reviews

Shazam! stands out by embracing what makes the superhero fun

With one magic word, Shazam! keeps the fun train rolling for the DC cinematic universe. DC was already on the right track with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but taking a chance with a B-list (maybe even C-list) character who had a chance to reach a younger audience might have derailed that momentum.

Some fans and critics might feel like DC’s big-screen product won’t be fully established until the big names like Batman and Superman have been restored, and the cinematic universe is on a path to getting the band together in another Justice League film. But Marvel seized the superhero movie pedestal with lesser characters and by creating a slow build that stoked anticipation for a big payoff.

Another reason that Marvel has succeeded while so many other studios and franchises have failed in trying to build a cinematic universe is its realization that many different types of stories and genres could be featured within a superhero universe. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man resonated with audiences because they were comedies as much as blockbuster spectacles. Humor has always been the honeypot for these movies.

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comic books

Diving deep into the Batcave on Batman’s 80th anniversary

If you hadn’t already heard (or read) the news, today (March 30, 2019) is the 80th anniversary of Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27. To commemorate the occasion, DC Comics published the 1000th issue of Detective Comics.

Typical of comic books these days, a whole bunch of variant covers were released for the landmark issue. This is the one I ended up buying, a retro-style cover by Michael Cho.


Surprising myself, I passed on the Frank Miller cover. As much as I love Miller’s work — and the heavy influence he’s had on Batman — that illustration was messy and dark. I wanted something more fun. Cho’s cover also alludes to how versatile Batman is as a character. He works in any genre, any style, something I wrote about five years ago.

Happy Batman Day: Appreciating Different Caped Crusaders on 75th Anniversary

A few months ago, my nieces stopped over for a visit. With their mother around, watching TV or playing with the iPad wasn’t an option. So the kids went to Uncle Ian’s room to find some toys to play with or books to read.

While we were doodling on sketch pads, Junior Niece asked me, “Why do you like Batman so much?” What do you mean, kid? Why do you ask think I like Batman?She then took some Blu-rays from my TV stand and set them down in front of me. Hmm, the kid had a point.

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newsletter

Overzealous Recycling 012: We’re all fine here now, thank you

This past week’s routine was thrown out of whack by a hours-long wait in the emergency room. No worries. A bit of concern with my niece that would’ve been taken care of at the pediatrician or even urgent care had it happened during the day.

But everything’s perfectly all right now. She’s fine. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here 

This pass should say “10:10 PM.”

At some point during the third hour (of a total four; my sister was there for six hours), while my phone’s battery was sinking toward 10% charged, I began thinking about an obscure, nearly 25-year-old Saturday Night Live skit called “WR.”

Do you remember that one? George Clooney was hosting the show during his ER fame, so a parody of the medical drama was a natural (maybe lazy) idea. This was Season 20 — Feb. 25, 1995 — if you’re a diehard SNL fan and completist.

Unfortunately — and normally, this might be the thing to vex me the most in a particular week — there doesn’t appear to be an embed of the skit. But it is available on NBC’s Saturday Night Live website (though not the NBC app, as the site claims):

WR: Waiting Room

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newsletter

Overzealous Recycling 011: Pain or damage don’t end the world

Has it really been 13 years since Deadwood was sadly, heartbreakingly canceled by HBO? What were you doing in 2006? Can you even remember?

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here 

Ask me to name my favorite TV shows of all time and Deadwood would be one of the three I list. Yet with each passing year, my memories of the series fade. I could go back any time and watch the show on HBO GO, but haven’t done so. There’s too much other TV to watch now, and I can’t keep with it. Adding an old favorite to the mix would just complicate matters.

But now, Deadwood fans are finally getting the ending we were deprived of 13 years ago. Unfortunately, it won’t be the finale we really wanted. It’s not a full fourth season. It won’t even be the two movies that series creator David Milch and HBO once agreed to. This will be whatever Milch (with the help of True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto) could distill into one two-hour movie which takes places years after we last saw Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, and so many other residents of Deadwood, South Dakota.

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movie reviews

Us will creep you out and is packed with ideas, but lacks satisfying scares

Whether or not you consider Us a scary movie depends on your personal preferences. If “scary” means making you jump in your seat, shielding yourself with the person sitting next to you, or screaming out loud, you might be disappointed with Jordan Peele’s latest film.

But Us is most certainly creepy, with imagery that might live inside your head for a while and revisit when you close your eyes. The broken mirror doubles that a family suddenly encounters are chilling, a credit to make-up and costuming as well some fantastic acting — both in a physical and psychological sense — from the cast.

Following Get Out, Peele has made another thinking person’s horror film. No, Us probably won’t resonate the way his first effort did. And the story’s resolution doesn’t feel as satisfying. That might compel some fans and critics to use terms like “sophomore slump” in critiquing this movie. But Peele deserves credit for not repeating himself here, something that surely would’ve been easy to do.

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Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 030: Avengers: Endgame Madness, James Gunn returns and Triple Frontier

After taking last week off, we’re back with a new Amusement Park Podcast. Chris and I look at the final Avengers: Endgame trailer for clues, react to Disney re-hiring James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, review Netflix’s Triple Frontier, and wonder if “streaming fatigue” is real.

Difficulty lining our schedules up and what appeared to be a slow news week were the primary reasons for us not recording last week. But even if we had recorded, we probably would’ve missed the Avengers: Endgame trailer and news of Disney re-hiring James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Hopefully, you’ll still want to hear what we have to say on those subjects, along with some thoughts on streaming “subscription fatigue” among consumers.

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