Saturday, August 23, 2008
The first Del Toro movie that I watched was Chronos back in 95. It showcased the talents of a visionary new writer/director with a unique and slightly skewed perspective. Artistically his direction was flawless and coupled with his sense of the weird and choice of subject matter(which can be somewhat esoteric) it was enough to get me hooked. Watching it reminded me of the first time I sat through Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen or Gilliam's Brazil. This director was obviously one to watch.
Then came Mimic in 97 which was somewhat of a disappointment. This may have been part due to the alleged clashes that Del Toro had with the Weinsteins during the shoot as apparently they were constantly second guessing him. It may have been a slight misfire for Del Toro but still embedded within the movie was the directors flare for the visual and there were still some excellent standout scenes.
He returned to Spain for his next movie; The Devil's Backbone. Released in 2001,this movie was compared to The Others and the Sixth Sense which was probably the easiest way for the studio to market it. In reality it is a far superior movie.
With Blade 2 released in 2002 Del Toro was back in Hollywood. I quite enjoyed this one to be honest, especially the new take on the vampire myth/design. The Bloodpack gang that he teamed up with were great and the overall mood and look of the piece really worked for me. It was flawed but very entertaining.
Hellboy in 2004 seemed like the perfect fit for Del Toro as he had an obvious love for Mignola's work. He did in fact capture the world quite well and really breathed life into the characters. Pearlman who had worked with him on Chronos and Blade 2 was perfectly cast as Hellboy. The ending fell flat, but it was still a good take on the character and a decent 1st Hellboy movie.
Pan's Labyrinth(2006)completely blew me away. Again like The Devil's Backbone(Del Toro has called Pan an unofficial spiritual sequel to The Devils Backbone) and (the Del Toro produced)The Orphanage, was set again in the time of the Spanish Civil War. This was an almost perfect movie in every way and I cannot rate it highly enough.
I originally started this post with the intention of doing a quick review of Hellboy 2, but ended up doing a quick rundown of Del Toro's movies to date. Anyway:
The opening stop motion sequence was fantastic and then ...
Well and then it just got mired in bad character interplay, a poor script and the sound of my creaking cinema seat.
Hellboy as a kid, just looked like a kid in bad Halloween makeup. Maybe that was intentional as I do realise the movie was paying homage to the monster movies of yesteryear-but it still looked awful.
The romance angle was fun to begin with but got tired rather quickly especially when all of the characters seemed to have been missed by Cupids Arrow. God even Mr Ectoplasmic Johann Krauss had a sob story to tell.
The characters this time around(apart from Pearlman)were incredibly flat.
The comedy was overplayed and there just seemed too much of it. I didn't think I'd ever find Jeffrey Tambor annoying unless it was a character trait he was purposely trying to evoke-as with The Larry Sanders Show, whereby he was intentionally annoying- but funny. In this he was just annoying.
When they mention that they have to go to the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland my wife actually turned to me and smiled(-My part of the world)And I must admit I was half excited to see how Del Toro would compose his shots of this unique landscape. But no, we ended up on a big cliff face that could have been anywhere in the world-with no Giants Causeway.
Then the script goes from bad to worse. Even the visuals and action scenes seemed perfunctory compared to his usual-don't get me wrong overall the look of the movie was great but at times it seemed he was was just testing or getting up to speed on certain techniques possibly to apply to his next movie-The Hobbit.
I feel like I have ended on a sour note and that is probably why I tempered this post at the start with my obvious admiration of the man- Also why having seen the movie some time ago I couldn't bring myself to write a review-until now.
Think I'll go and watch Pan's Labyrinth-again.