In the hope of actually giving a much more thorough trek through my recent viewings, I write mini-reviews/thoughts/etc. of those movies I just don't have the time to devote to writing up as a longer piece. I give you once again, an installment of "Blurbs":
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
Guillermo del Toro is one of the most exciting directors I’ve ever become enamored with. He doesn’t shy away from pop sensibilities, nor more artistic ambitions, and he is frequently brilliant in his horror/fantasty/action films. PAN’S LABYRINTH, certainly his best film to date, was a trailblazing experience, adopting all the wonderment that comes with the best told fables and fairy tales. With HELLBOY II, del Toro has fully stepped into his own creatively, fully realizing a fantastic world that doesn’t just come to life, but simply is; something that could conceivably exist within the parameters of our own reality. It’s not a film that is as successful or coherent as PAN’S LABYRINTH, but it is certainly a must-see film that delves into the characters and cares for them so much. HELLBOY II is a quirky, dark, lighthearted and ultimately thrilling film that seems like the work of an improv artist, and that, though it seems like it could fall apart at any moment, thankfully for the audience, it never feels like it is attempting to do something it just can’t quite accomplish. It is this sense of anarchy in the production - the hilarious asides, the frequent sense of amazement, and the exuberant energy of just about everything - that gives the film its real heart and purpose.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK
The biggest surprise is that THE INCREDIBLE HULK doesn’t suck. It’s not a great movie by any means - not even close to IRON MAN or THE DARK KNIGHT - but it pulls off what it sets out to do beyond anyone’s expectations. This is a re-booting of the franchise launched originally by Ang Lee in 2003 in an adaptation that has divided fans and critics, and which I think is a superb movie that bears the distinct mark of its maker. The latest outing is a much more action-centric telling. It’s the opposite side of Lee’s more cerebral take on the character five years ago. Edward Norton and Liv Tyler are servicable as Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, which is more than I can ask for, and there are some flashes of their true capabilities from time to time; if only they were given more to do. But, as I stated, the action is on center stage here, and not the characters. It's essentially a three-stage actioner that I didn't mind sitting through, and that gives a pretty good representation of the other, "smash"-ier side of the Hulk than previously seen.
This is a movie that I never in a million years would have picked up or watched (outside of it being on the Sci-Fi Channel at 3 AM), but decided to try after reading a couple of really positive reviews. Well, add my own opinion to the recommendation pile because this movie has it in spades. What is a well-worn genre is given a much-needed invigorating spike of juice in this taut, thrilling giant-animal-develops-taste-for-humans tale about a killer crocodile on a river in Australia. Radha Mitchell stars, and delivers a nice turn (I like listening to her natural accent) as an Aussie river tour guide, and the gore and effects are really well done. ROGUE was written and directed by Greg McLean, who delivered the delicious Outback horror film WOLF CREEK a few years back. This one's worth checking out, and I'm gonna keep my eye on McLean.