Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hellboy, Dark Knight and Gotham Knights reviews




The year of comic-book based films.

This year, more than any I can remember, has been full of comic-book based films. The finished products have been mixed, but the best of them have worked well when there’s been a faithfulness to the source material’s core. Unfortunately, there are times when it’s just not really possible to get the thing that makes a comic cool to translate from one format to another. Such is the case with Mike Mignola’s series Hellboy. Director (and screenwriter) Guillermo del Toro’s second effort in the series is certainly a crowd-pleasing romp through the life of Ron Perlman’s titular character, but it misses the mark in capturing the wit and style of the source material. Now there are some bits in the movie that kinda blew me away, but those moments weren’t enough to get me past the hokey and overly sentimental bits. Case in point- in the film’s opening, a young Hellboy is told a bedtime story that sets up the main plot. As we hear the tale, we see the thing in brilliantly executed CGI animation of wooden puppets (trust me, it’s cooler than it sounds), but the `lil Hellboy shtick just left me cold. It’s not a bad movie per se, it just doesn’t live up to it’s source. 75/100.

Then there’s the rare occasion when a movie captures the best bits of a comic and gives us a cinematic distillation of those bits into something truly magical. In The Dark Knight, we have what is without a doubt an Oscar-worthy effort. Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan has apparently learned from the mistakes of Batman Begins and knocked it WAY out of the park. The acting is spot on, the music superb, and the thing just blew me away. I’m still buzzing from the experience. The movie takes most of it’s core from some of the best comics in the vast history of Batman, particularly Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, and The Long Halloween, but it cherry-picks the most translatable bits to film.


Many folks will be going to this movie just to see the final completed work by Heath Ledger, and I truly wish it wasn’t so, mainly for the selfish desire to see him in a sequel. There’s an Oscar buzz around his performance as The Joker, but make no mistake, it’s not just cause he died. It’s really that good. Seriously. Best Supporting Actor is taken, just announce it now.
Aaron Eckhart will probably be overshadowed by Ledger a bit here, and that’s a damn shame. His Harvey Dent is spot-on perfect. Christian Bale’s performance is better this time around too as he doesn’t really have to take on all the spotlight as Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon plays a much more prominent role.


This is The Godfather of comic book movies. 95/100.
(Oh, and just a side note to everyone who has seen the trailers: You don’t know what’s going on with this movie. The lines in the trailers are way out of context mostly, as are the bits of the action sequences you’ve seen. I absolutely applaud the folks responsible for this. Thanks for not telegraphing some very very cool stuff.)

Mini Review

Gotham Knights
Remember The Animatrix? Same kinda thing here, only this time it’s Batman. Some really really good stuff here. Particularly the episode entitled “Working Through Pain.” 88/100

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