MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: HELLBOY II and BLADE II

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Been a long time since the last Saturday Night Double Feature, but with a Hellboy reboot on the way and talk of a new Blade film with Wesley Snipes, It’s time to revisit both series with their Guillermo del Toro directed entries…

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HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008)

Guillermo del Toro cranks things up for the Hellboy sequel which really scores with an amazing visual style and some stunning creature design. Del Toro this time brings a faster and more even pace to this one, as well as, a story that is a bit more Brothers Grimm than Lovecraft and that helps lighten the tone a bit, too. There’s a little more humor (Hellboy and Abe drunkenly singing Barry Manilow is sidesplitting), but the film never gets silly.

The story this time finds Hellboy (Ron Perlman) outing himself to the general public while a noble but vengeful elf prince, Nuada, (Played with dignity and strength by Luke Goss) plans to resurrect the mythic Golden Army to rid the world of mankind, so the creatures of fairy can return to their former glory. His twin sister, Nuala (Anna Walton) tries to thwart his efforts at genocide and allies herself with Hellboy and the team to protect pieces of a golden crown which can resurrect and control the goblin-made mechanical army. Can Hellboy defeat this powerful elven prince in order to protect the very humans who now seem to reject him, despite all he’s done to protect them?

Del Toro stages some absolutely beautiful set pieces with his trademark sumptuous visually style and design. Highlights of the film being The Troll Market scene and the following sequence featuring a giant plant elemental battling our heroes by the Brooklyn Bridge. They alone are worth the price of admission, not to mention the climactic battle against the Golden Army itself. There is an amazing assortment of supporting fantasy creatures that are incredibly designed and rendered and are worth the price of admission as well. Once again the mix of practical and CGI FX is truly breathtaking and elevate an already very entertaining film.

The cast are mostly all back except, Doug Jones now voices Abe himself and Agent Myers is absent. There is also new team member Johann Krauss, an ectoplasmic gas in a diving suit voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who butts heads…or glass bubbles…with the loose cannon, Hellboy.

Not only is Hellboy 2 a bigger and faster paced supernatural action flick, but it is a visual feast for the eyes and just plain loads of fun. A sequel that exceeds and improves on the entertaining original.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Hellboys!

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BLADE II (2002)

In my opinion Blade II is the best of the Blade series and is certainly my personal favorite in the comic book-based trilogy. Second adventure of the half human, half vampire hero Blade (Wesley Snipes) finds him hunting down Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) who has been taken and turned by the vampires. Upon finding him and using his serum to effect a cure, Blade is contacted by the vampire hierarchy…and asked for help. It seems a vampire mutation strain has evolved creating vicious creatures called Reapers, who hunt vampires much like they hunt humans. The vampires’ reasoning is that once the vampires are wiped out by the rapidly multiplying Reapers, they will turn on the humans that Blade protects. Why not work together to destroy a common foe? Now the vampire slayer must join forces with his mortal enemies in order to defeat a threat that makes even vampires afraid of the dark…but can he trust his new allies?

As directed by Guillermo del Toro, Blade II has a great visual style, some fierce, gory action, a cool cast of supporting characters, along with a nasty and very effective foe in the Reapers. Where the first Blade was an action film with horror elements, Blade II is a horror film with lots of action…win, win!  Under Del Toro’s guidance, the cast all bring vivid life to their comic book-style characters. Wesley Snipes really takes control of the Blade character at this point, no more evident than in the scene where he first meets ‘The Bloodpack’, a team of vampire commandos who’s sole purpose is to kill him, but now must work with him against the Reapers. “Can you blush?” Luke Goss is fierce and yet noble as the Reaper leader Jared Nomak, a monster with some interesting secrets. Kris Kristofferson is cantankerous, as always, as Blade’s partner, mentor and weapon’s maker, Whistler. Leonor Valera is the beautiful Nyssa, a vampire aristocrat and warrior who steals Blade’s heart, despite being of a species he’s sworn to destroy. And Ron Perlman is effective and entertaining, as usual, as Bloodpack member Reinhard who is not happy with Blade as an ally and would love to take him down first chance he gets.

Blade II is a really fun flick and gives us some great and gory action set pieces, as when Blade and The Bloodpack take on the Reapers in a vampire night club, again in the catacombs underneath the city and finally, the climactic three-way showdown between Blade, Nomak and some double crossing vampires in the vampire stronghold. A really fast paced, delightfully gory and very entertaining action/horror with Blade at his best. Also stars Norman “Daryl Dixon” Reedus as Blade’s new sidekick, Scud and Hong Kong legend, Donnie Yen…who also choreographed the fight action…as Bloodpack member, Snowman. A really good movie and the best of this fun and far too short-lived series.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4) fangs!

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BARE BONES: MOM AND DAD (2017)

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MOM AND DAD (2017)

Darkly humorous flick has a mysterious “attack” reversing a parent’s natural instincts to protect their children and turning homicidal on their offspring instead. The film focuses on the dysfunctional Ryan family, mom Kendall (Selma Blair), dad Brent (Nicolas Cage), teen daughter Carly (Anne Winters) and little brother Josh (Zackary Arthur), as an already unstable home becomes a battle for survival when the Ryan parents gleefully try to murder their children.

Written and directed by Brian Taylor (Crank, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), this is an unapologetic-ally over-the-top and sometimes gruesome flick that is not afraid to “go there”. The source of the attack, that seems to emanate from TV and computer screens, isn’t revealed, but Taylor revels in it’s effects. We get some very chilling sequences of parents slaughtering their offspring quite happily, including a very effective Dawn of The Dead style scene of a horde of parents attacking a school to get at their young, and a delivery room sequence that chills to the bone. What makes it work is that the writer/ director has a very twisted and dark sense of humor about the proceedings that gets you giggling at some pretty unnerving acts. Once we get inside the Ryan home, Blair and Cage go full blown over-the-top as Brent and Kendall try to kill their kids…but wait till grandma and grandpa come over for dinner, it becomes a free for all. Do all parents sometimes have the inner urge to want to kill their kids? If the film has any relevant questions, that would be it, but is too busy having bloody fun with it’s concept to get too philosophical. Sure it’s not perfect. Not every scene works and the film might have been even more effective if the Ryan family were a more normal, loving family and not one already on the edge. As is, though, it’s a twisted and over-the-top flick that is refreshingly without boundaries. Also stars the great Lance Henriksen as Grandpa Mel and Marilyn Dodds Frank as Grandma Barbara.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: HELLBOY and HELLBOY 2

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HELLBOY (2004)

While I’m not familiar with the comic that this is based on, I do know it was created by Mike Mignola and is about a demon who battles other paranormal creatures. Guillermo del Toro’s film adaptation opens during World War II where American commandos thwart the opening of an otherworldly dimension by the Nazis and the Russian monk Rasputin (Karel Roden). Before the rift is closed, occult expect Trevor Bruttenholm (Kevin Trainor during the WWII scenes and John Hurt as an older man), discovers something came through…a red baby demon with a huge stone hand. 60 years later “Hellboy” (a perfectly cast Ron Perlman) has been raised by Bruttenholm and is now part of the Bureau Of Paranormal Research And Defense, battling other paranormal threats to keep us safe. He fights along with fish-man, Abe Sapien (performed by Doug Jones but voiced by David Hyde Pierce), fire-starter and girlfriend, Liz (Selma Blair) and freshman Agent Myers (Rupert Evans). Rasputin has been resurrected and is now lurking about trying to awaken the Lovecraftian Ogdru Jahad and bring them into our world…and he needs to unlock Hellboy’s true demon nature to do it. Can Hellboy and Co. defeat Rasputin when Hellboy himself is the secret to the success of his plans to destroy our world?

As guided by del Toro, Hellboy is a visually cool and fun supernatural superhero story with some really good action set pieces and plenty of equally creepy monsters and characters. His design work is captivating and the action moves at a good clip as we go from some skirmishes with otherworldly beasties in New York to it’s fun and gooey climax in Russia. And the SPFX are for the most part flawless with both practical and CGI FX used to bring del Toro’s vision of Mignola’s world to the screen.

The cast are all good for the most part with Perlman stealing the show and the supporting cast backing him up well. What brought this down a bit for me was Rasputin was kind of a standard villain with Karel Roden really not seeming to get the material as did the rest of the cast. He seems to take things a bit too seriously and to be honest, is a bit bland. Even the supporting villains were a bit more matched with the material such as the blade wielding zombie, Karl Kroenen (Ladislav Beran). The pacing can be a little off at times too, a subplot involving a rivalry for Liz’s affections with Myers kinda slows things down a bit, but overall, it’s a fun and colorful fantasy flick that paved the way for an even better sequel.

A solid 3 Hellboys!

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HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008)

Guillermo del Toro cranks things up for the Hellboy sequel which really scores with an amazing visual style and some stunning creature design. Del Toro this time brings a faster and more even pace to this one, as well as, a story that is a bit more Brothers Grimm than Lovecraft and that helps lighten the tone a bit, too. There’s a little more humor (Hellboy and Abe drunkenly singing Barry Manilow is sidesplitting), but the film never gets silly.

The story this time finds Hellboy (Ron Perlman) outing himself to the general public while a noble but vengeful elf prince, Nuada, (Played with dignity and strength by Luke Goss) plans to resurrect the mythic Golden Army to rid the world of mankind, so the creatures of fairy can return to their former glory. His twin sister, Nuala (Anna Walton) tries to thwart his efforts at genocide and allies herself with Hellboy and the team to protect pieces of a golden crown which can resurrect and control the goblin-made mechanical army. Can Hellboy defeat this powerful elven prince in order to protect the very humans who now seem to reject him, despite all he’s done to protect them?

Del Toro stages some absolutely beautiful set pieces with his trademark sumptuous visually style and design. Highlights of the film being The Troll Market scene and the following sequence featuring a giant plant elemental battling our heroes by the Brooklyn Bridge. They alone are worth the price of admission, not to mention the climactic battle against the Golden Army itself. There is an amazing assortment of supporting fantasy creatures that are incredibly designed and rendered and are worth the price of admission as well. Once again the mix of practical and CGI FX is truly breathtaking and elevate an already very entertaining film.

The cast are mostly all back except, Doug Jones now voices Abe himself and Agent Myers is absent. There is also new team member Johann Krauss, an ectoplasmic gas in a diving suit voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who butts heads…or glass bubbles…with the loose cannon, Hellboy.

Not only is Hellboy 2 a bigger and faster paced supernatural action flick, but it is a visual feast for the eyes and just plain loads of fun. A sequel that exceeds and improves on the entertaining original.

3 and 1/2 Hellboys!

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