Hellboy reboot is a stinker, but David Harbour shines bright

Clearly, the world was not anticipating a R-rated Hellboy reboot weeks before the release of Avengers: Endgame. Based on Mike Mignola’s terrific comics, Hellboy (2019) is the third attempt of the series. Despite its Deadpoolesque (or lack thereof) wit and gore, the David Harbour starrer bombed at the box office upon its release last week. We haven’t seen a comic book movie fail in this proportion for a long time. Seriously, what went wrong?

The 2019 version of Hellboy is starkly different from the previous two instalments directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Neil Marshall steps into the shoes of Del Toro and crafts a shamelessly violent yet wisecracking version of Hellboy. Marshall is known for horror and action movies and he orchestrated two Game of Thrones battles. His GoT connections justify the gorefest in Hellboy.

A brief (and digestible) origin story

At the height of world war 2, the Nazi’s initiated project Ragnarok, which brought the demon Hellboy on earth from the depths of hell. Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), the chief of B.P.R.D adopts and raises him to fight against the dark forces.

A below average villain

Mila Jovovich plays the role of a 5th-century sorceress (Nimue-the blood queen). She was defeated and dismembered by King Arthur in the ancient time. In a wicked turn of events, her disjointed body parts are retrieved from different corners of Britain in order to resurrect her in current time. Nimue and her pig giant henchman bring wrath upon the earth and she also has a crush on our main man Hellboy.

Nimue miserably fails to impress as a villain. She might have a similar agenda that of Thanos’, but her character lacks any kind of persona a baddie should possess.

Forgettable cast

This movie has an ensemble of forgettable supporting characters. There’s M11 special agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) who can evolve into a wolf by injecting a super serum. Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), a medium who can foresee the future teams up with Hellboy but for us she was a sidekick reject.

Only acting that warrants respect in this film is Ian McShane’s Bruttenholm. David Harbour is unquestionably the heart of this film. He delicately portrays a funny yet ruthless demon beneath the layers of his brilliant makeup.

The worst comic book movie of the decade (probably)

Ron Perlman and Del Toro’s Hellboy was not something we will root for in the future. Both Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008) were average flicks and earned passable box office money. But at least they were miles ahead in comparison with the reboot version. Lionsgate is going to lose a lot of money as the film fell flat at the theatres.

Another great comic book character wasted on the silver screen.


Watch Hellboy if you love the comics. There is an MCU style post credit scene which hints a sequel (which we don’t want for God’s sake). The soundtracks are cool. Check out the Smoke on the water cover by 2WEI.

Hellboy is now running in STAR Cineplex. Get your tickets from here.

Shazam is the new magic word for DCEU!

First, they tried too hard to not be Marvel. Then they tried too hard to be Marvel. Turns out all they had to do was say the magic word. The DC Extended Universe finally gets it all right with “Shazam!”.

A refreshing break from the bleakness

For a long time the consensus was that the DC movies are to be significantly more dark and bleak than contemporary superhero films. The darkness was supposed to inspire a more realistic outlook. If done right, that could have turned out well. But it wasn’t executed right. So the DCEU tried to move on to a more cheerful theme, evident in the Justice League movie. Unfortunately that also didn’t turn out great, as perhaps the most awaited film ever had measly returns from the box office.

With Aquaman, the DCEU showed signs of vitality. And they have finally perfected the formula with Shazam. The most family friendly movie from the DCEU so far, Shazam attempts to inspire every adult to embrace the child in them. And every child to unfold the hero in them. The DCEU displays it’s knack for consistency, comedy and timing in this exhilarating Boy-of-Steel film.

A well told origin story

The most difficult part of a Superhero story told on the big screen is often the origin. Origin stories are a dime a dozen, and many of them are as good as one would imagine can get. While Shazam isn’t innovative, it is near perfect in execution. The film tells the story of 14-year old Billy Batson gaining the powers of the “Seven Elders” and his subsequent adventures in a simple and carefree fashion.

While it is easy to assume from the trailers or this review that the film is specifically kid-friendly, such is not the case. It explores dark aspects of the regular lives of people with straightforward realism. But unlike many contemporaries, the film attempts to teach the audience to deal with life’s many problems with a smile.

A genuinely good time

At its core, Shazam is a cheerful superhero tale, told with remarkable simplicity and style. It doesn’t try too hard to be something it is not. And that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Instead of pushing an overreaching theme or straining to set up some elaborate tale (it does that quite naturally), Shazam just offers its audience a good time at the theater. All the actors involved perform perfectly on their roles, especially the younger actors and Zachary Levi. Mark Strong’s acting is as strong as ever. Most importantly, everyone seems in touch with their characters.

So go watch Shazam in the STAR Cineplex. And let the magic entangle you for a good time.

Get your tickets here.

The Three Colors Trilogy: A series of masterpieces from Krzysztof Kieslowski

Blue, White, Red.

Liberty, equality, fraternity.

Chronologically these are the three colours of the French flag and the national motto of the French Republic. But these six words have a different meaning to film lovers. Yes, I am talking about the three colors trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The films titled as Three Colors: Blue (1993), Three Colors: White (1994) and Three Colors: Red (1994) are supposedly based on the three mottos of the French Republic. Though Kieslowski has declined this possibility, one can loosely connect the mottos with the films.

Should you watch these films? Are they worth the time?

Let’s dive into further discussion. (I’ll try to make it a spoiler-free review)

Awards and Nominations

To some people, movie quality is largely tied to its achievements. Well, for them, this trilogy is also heavy in awards and nominations.

Three Colors: Blue was awarded the best film in the Venice Film Festival of 1993. It was nominated in three categories at the 1994 Golden Globes. 

Kieslowski won the award for Best Director for Three Colours: White in 1994 Berlin Film Festival.

Three Colors: Red had a total of 18 wins and 24 nominations. It was nominated for Palme d’Or in the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. The winner of that year was Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino.

You can get further details about the awards in the IMDb pages of these movies.

Now let’s stop judging art in a materialistic way and start appreciating its beauty.

Three Colors: Blue (1993)

The first of the three films are written and directed by Kieslowski has shown one’s redemption from grief. The film shows us the emotional and mental state of someone grieving deeply. Even so, the filmmaking is melodic, expressive and sympathetic. The colour blue can be related to a lot of things. From cheerfulness to the distance to sadness, it can symbolize a range of emotions. The film takes this into account and it seems like the central character of the film bounces from one emotion to another. The talented actress Juliette Binoche gives an amazing performance. In several brilliant close-up shots, her expressions almost transcend emotional boundaries. The film puts a lot of emphasis on music. There are times when the colour blue merges with symphonies.

There is a lot that can be talked about this film that too in an unspoiled way. One can talk for hours just about the ending scene of this film.

I guess this would inspire you to watch this film. If not, then we have two other movies in our bag.

Three Colors: White (1994)

This film is based upon the most highly valued idea of the modern world, Equality. Unlike the previous film of this trilogy, this film falls more under the black comedy genre. White can be divided into three parts.

First is the shame of inequality. The central character here faces inequality and experiences a pitfall in life. From a dream of having everything to a reality of having nothing. Then comes the second part or Transformation. The character here faces something that changes his view towards life and he starts to transform. The third and final part of the film is the blissful revenge or being equal. Through a set of well-planned acts the central character here recovers the inequality of the first part.

This film is also seen as a critic and satire towards post-communist Poland.

It also questions our morality. To what extent are we willing to go in the name of equality? Where do we draw the line between getting even and vengeance?

With these complex thoughts, the film gifts us a brilliant acting, powerful dialogues, and obviously good cinematography. Just like Blue, this film has a lot of white in its scenes.

Three Colors: Red (1994)

Just as the color suggests, this film is the warmest of all three of the films. This intellectual puzzle gifts and confuses us with various depictions.

In both the art direction and photographic design, the dominance of the color red is easily noticeable.

It is set to stand for both danger, anger, love and passion throughout the film. Also, at the end of the film, one can easily understand how it is linked to Fraternity.

Red has its storyline revolved around three characters. One model, one retired judge, and one young lawyer. The model runs over a dog and this leads to a series of twisted and unpredictable events. When two of the three characters meet at first it is easily assumed that something bad is about to come.

The events throughout the film make us question about the exitance of three characters. Some might wonder that one character might be the younger version of another. While others may relate one of the characters with god. God who knows all and who orchestrates the lives of people.

The wonderful presentation of this film gives us the experience of being an eavesdropper.

We see how people with negative traits recover themselves with a touch of friendship and start to do wonderful things. The final moments of this film truly shock us with the connections from the two previous movies. Red goes short in emotional deepness compared to Blue and lacks the black comedy of White. But it makes up everything with its story and stylistic fertility.

Sadly, this movie will never be nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscars because the country of origin Switzerland has decided to reject it.

The takeaway

I had so much more to write about these three films, but I think it would be best if you give these three a watch and reveal by yourself. I’ll end with a quote from the director:

“All the films that I make are about the need to open up. About the need to communicate on another level rather than just talking about the quality of wine, car prices, flat prices or the best bank deposits.”

Alita: Battle Angel is exemplary, not revolutionary

Days up to Alita’s release has been surprisingly underhyped considering that it’s an adaptation from a manga classic. Mangas such as Death Note and Ghost in the Shell, that has previously received live-action adaptations were huge disappointments. So, when media moguls James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez announced that they’re going to be giving it a book to film adaptation, maybe not everyone was budged. However, Alita did not really disappoint and watching it on the big screen at Star Cineplex was a worthwhile experience.

Staying true to the source content

Most commonly the complaint from loyal fanbases after a book to film (or manga to film) adaptations starts from the story not being true to the real canon. In this case, the film’s producer and co-writer James Cameron is actually and fan of the original manga created by Yukito Kishiro. Cameron has planned to create an adaptation of Alita for over a decade so it only makes sense that he stayed true to the original content.

Outstanding visuals

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Since the protagonist of this film is a female cyborg, it called for extremely polished and high-tech CGI. This meant that they had to spend a staggering 200 million dollars just to make the movie. This did not leave much to spend behind actually promoting it. The visual representation of the character Alita is extremely realistic, sans her eyes. Those were left exceptionally large to stay true to the manga.

The manga actually provides an explanation for why her eyes are so huge in proportion to the rest of her face but since the movie takes on so much story and condenses it into a two-hour show, it is understandable that it didn’t explore much of her origins.

The action

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The action sequences of sci-fi films can be turned legendary if put in the right hands. James Cameron has explored such aspects in his previous works such as The Terminator. Much of the action in Alita: Battle Angel is surrounding a sport they play called Motorball. It’s kind of an amalgam of roller derby and rugby that is mainly played by the cyborg inhabitants of their fictional world.

The fluid action sequences and incredible motion capture could’ve only been possible with a significant budget.

Alita moves through the air with ease, and many of the cyborgs fell organic to the proceedings.

Motorball becomes one of the more thrilling elements of the film. Among many action-packed scenes, the one in which Alita encounters Nyssiana stands out.

Nyssiana is a cyborg assassin who ruthlessly pursues Alita in the film. She is a film-original character and resembles a minor antagonist who appeared in the first volume of the manga.

The Plot

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The whole movie is essentially a buildup to a much bigger battle of sorts. The movie begins with cybernetics physician Dyson Ido(Christoph Waltz) finding the remnants of a cyborg under a fabled floating city called Zalem. Ido rebuilds the cyborg and gives her the name Alita. Alita is amnesiac at first but like all movies that feature characters with memory loss, certain situations trigger flashbacks.

Since, Alita: Battle Angel movie is only based on the first four volumes of the manga, so several plot lines and characters were not adapted for the film. Dr. Ido’s story differs a bit in the movie because he is not the main character in every arc of the manga. The name of his manga counterpart is Daisuke Ido. Rosa Salazar characterizes Alita as someone who is just discovering a magical world, but who also has a lot of command over her life. She’s innocent but not afraid. And when the time comes to protect those that she loves, she is ready. The only element in the plot that didn’t play out that well, was the romantic element. Character dialogues and moments of climax had scopes of improvement too.

Complexity in character building

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Once Alita begins to unlock her potential as a Battle Angel, the movie has an awful lot to juggle. Not only the origin of her advance-tech heart (so powerful it could power the whole city for a year!) but the people who seek to steal it for nefarious purposes, including Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), another cybernetics doctor who works with Vector (Mahershala Ali) to create superpowered cyberathletes to compete in Motorball.

Alita and her romantic counterpart Hugo have an instant connection with one another and that plays a vital role in the story up to the very end. The revelation of Desty Nova in Alita: Battle Angel was one of the biggest surprises in the film. Desty Nova is a mysterious figure who is central to the final arc of the Alita: Battle Angel film. He possesses several bodies during the film and appears to Alita in flashbacks.  Nova is also a major figure in the manga, and he becomes the main antagonist of the story.

The verdict

Alita: Battle Angel is exemplary, not revolutionary

Whether you think the storyline of Alita: Battle Angel is special or not, the movie in its entirety keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Despite its long duration of run time, It doesn’t drag and leaves you wanting more.

Since the movie ends on kind of a cliffhanger, we can only hope that the directors and producers will come up with a sequel. In the meantime, you should watch this one while it’s still running in the theatres because it’s a sensational experience whether you love futuristic sci-fi or not. Get your tickets from here.

The Beatles doesn’t exist…in the movie ‘Yesterday’

‘Yesterday’, the Danny Boyle movie due this June, is about a world where ‘The Beatles’ doesn’t exist. By the looks of its first trailer, the musical-comedy promises to rock.

Directed by Danny Boyle, from a screenplay by Richard Curtis and a story by Jack Barth, ‘Yesterday’ centres around a guy named Jack Malik. Jack is a run of the mill musician. He fails as a performer, but his girlfriend comforts him assuring ‘miracles’ do happen. One fateful night, a global power outage occurs. Following the worldwide load-shedding, Jack succumbs to a road accident. He survives but loses a pair of front teeth. As soon as he recovers and returns to normal life, he realizes nobody in this world recognizes ‘The Beatles’ anymore, except him. The Fab Four is completely erased from history, even from the internet. But Jack remembers all of their songs and can play them as well!

Jack is bewitched to see that John, Paul, Ringo and George are completely forgotten, but he also unleashes opportunity to reintroduce Beatlemania to the new generation. Willingly or not, Jack becomes a superstar by singing songs of ‘The Beatles’. His fans and critics commend his godsend songwriting ability (!) which Jack denies to be credited for. Meanwhile, he soars to stardom and eventually gets alienated from Ellie, his love interest.

What happens next can only be known when ‘Yesterday’ releases in June 28th. Jack Malik is played by Himesh Patel. Ed Sheeran makes a guest appearance as well.