The Watchlist: Episode 3 – Hellboy & John Wick

So Hellboy is back after an 11 years absence. Also John Wick is coming back next month. I have been planning on doing this for awhile as I haven’t seen either of these franchises and here is my chance. So how we’ll be doing this is I’ll look at Hellboy, then John Wick and you get the idea. That’ll spice things up. Get it, because  Hellboy is a devil man and John Wick is a servant of Satan or whatever. Enjoy!

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Hellboy

Our first movie is Hellboy, released in 2004. It is directed by Guillermo del Toro and stars Ron Perlman as the title character.

I’m just going to say this right away, I had never seen nor read anything Hellboy related. Quite a shock as I have an encyclopedic knowledge of these famous comic book characters, except obviously for Hellboy. When I was younger I was intimidated by the word ‘Hellboy’ and also it had a big scary devil guy on the cover and I wasn’t really into demons or monsters or whatever. That was years ago, my excuse in recent years was that I hadn’t found the time and, long story short, with a reboot coming out I decided to make time.  Now, onto the actual movie.

When this movie came out superhero movies weren’t really taken too seriously. X-Men and the 1989 Batman were the closest you got. The most common comic book movie at the time was either Batman & Robin, Spider-Man or The Matrix. Hellboy fitted in with the second category and since I have no nostalgic connection to this movie I just viewed it as a really cheesy fantasy epic. There is some stupid stuff but it adds to the charm of the film as you laugh alongside it. The scene that stood out the most for me was the opening sequence. I didn’t care what was going on, I was more interested in the over the top acting and the cartoony violence. There is other stupid stuff which if I had more time I would go into.

There are some generally good jokes in it too and the great performances help with the delivery of these jokes. Ron Perlman completely nailed his character and his was the best character in the whole movie. I also liked Jeffery Tambor and enjoyed all his scenes with Hellboy. Hellboy works really well, too bad the other side characters suck! The FBI guy and the flame girl performed okay but I was much happier whenever they weren’t in the movie.

I guess the obvious criticism is the CG work for this movie which is incredibly dated. Some other 2004 movies such as Spider-Man 2 or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban used CG heavily and looked way better than this movie. What does stand the test of time is the makeup effects and the set design which both look really good.

The story of this movie isn’t overly interesting as the most fun parts are creative action scenes and the character interactions. Maybe it’s because I’m not really invested in this universe yet, but I found whenever they focused on the evil bad guys’ plan and Hellboy’s destiny I was less interested.

Hellboy was good fun and one day I would like to watch this movie again and get a better insight. As of now I see it as just another interesting comic book movie from the early 2000’s.

4 – Watch Soon

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John Wick

A lot of great movies came out in 2014 and most of them I am yet to see. This was one of the ones I hadn’t seen and I’m glad I did because it was great!

This movie kind of has the same plot as Polar except it’s not shit. Keanu Reeves is getting over the tragic death of his wife, but before dying she got our hero John Wick a cute puppy. The cuteness doesn’t last long when Theon Greyjoy trashes John’s house, steals his car and kills his pup! This is around the time we learn that John Wick is an infamous Hitman known as the Bogeyman, which this idiot didn’t know about because he’s Theon Greyjoy. So from here John Wick loses his cool and spends the rest of the movie killing about 50 guys in one long take.

There really isn’t much to say about this movie because it’s a pretty solid action movie. You’ve got a somewhat relatable main character, evil assholes who you want to see get their heads blown off, an interesting story as the backbone for all the cool stuff and also some other stuff that makes it standout over other action movies.

The action scenes are the highlight with nice long takes, some impressive looking kills, a good balance with the usage of blood where it looks convincing and it’s used when appropriate.  My usual peeve with action movies, but which this movie nails perfectly, is BEING ABLE TO TELL WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING!!!  With most action movies, whenever you get to the hand to hand combat stuff, they cut the fight so bloody quickly that you have no idea what’s going on. (I’m getting old guys, your super edited fight scenes are giving me motion sickness!) The fight scenes in John Wick are so well choreographed and brilliantly shot that you really get nice angles of the fights and you always know what’s happening.

Sound design is also really good and there is an impressive soundtrack to go along with the cool action scenes. The cinematography is another highlight as it looks really gorgeous, especially during that night club action sequence where it looked amazing. It also helps give you an idea of what sort of world this movie takes place in as it has a very much Neo-Noir feel.

The movie does fumble a bit when it tries to simultaneously be a serious dark thriller and a stupid action movie. Whenever the movie tried to be funny I just found it super awkward and forced. So after John Wick kills these intruders a police officer rocks up and tells him the neighbours were complaining about some noise. John Wick says it’s nothing while the officer has full view of these dead bodies. This happens again later on and I found both of these scenes very corny and it kind of took me out of the movie. Also the ending felt a bit anticlimactic for my liking.

Overall John Wick was pretty damn awesome! This is probably the best movie I have seen Keanu Reeves in. If the next two movies are as good as this one then it will easily stomp over that other famous Keanu Reeves trilogy.

5 – Watch Immediately

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Four years after the first movie we’ve got Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Now that we’re familiar with the characters and this universe I think I’m finally getting into Hellboy.

So the plot is pretty similar to the first movie, an evil guy wants a magic thing so he can control an army and rule the world. It’s up to Hellboy and the rest of the fantasy freaks to stop them. They try to unveil the larger plot and along the way fight a bunch of henchmen. In the middle of all of that Hellboy and Liz are having relationship issues and Manning is annoyed at Hellboy for not following the rules. In the end it all comes down to Hellboy facing the villain and the evil guy will go on about how he’s meant to destroy the world or whatever. Baddie dies and ……. happily ever after.

It’s predictable but just like the last movie it’s a fun time so you can overlook that stuff. Though I noticed in this one there are a lot less dumb moments and more generally good moments. I found myself enjoying the side characters alot more this time. FBI guy is gone and good riddance. Hellboy is still a fun main character and Ron Perlman once again kills it! Liz is a little more interesting now that she and Hellboy are a thing. I was surprised by how much screen time Abe got in this movie and I liked what they did with him. Lastly Mysterio, who is voiced by Peter Griffin, is also a nice addition to the cast.

The CG has very much improved from the last movie. Sometimes it looks a bit bad but it’s a definite improvement. I found the absolute highlight of this movie is all the work that went into the makeup and creature design. Every creature is very unique and memorable. The Troll Market is probably the best looking set in the entire movie and feels very lively.

This movie came out a year after Spider-man 3 which is infamously known for alot of studio interference. Mike Magnola the creator of the Hellboy comic I think just let Guillermo loose to do whatever he liked. I think that’s worth pointing out because it feels like this is Guillermo del Toro’s vision and that’s why I can see this movie standing out for years to come. Especially nowadays with every superhero movie being a carbon copy of each other.

I guess the real downside of this movie is near the end where it looks like we’re building towards some sort of epic trilogy closer. Eleven years later Hellboy 3 is definitely not happening but instead we’re getting an R rated Hellboy reboot. It’s not this movie’s fault but it’s so disappointing as now I am actually excited to see what happens next but I know that will never happen.

Overall, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a worthy sequel to the first movie. I can definitely see myself watching these two movies again. They are fun movies to watch with good friends or with the family. (Whoever you see fit.)

5 – Watch Immediately

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John Wick: Chapter 2

So in 2017 John Wick returns in Chapter 2 of his autobiography and it’s awesome!

There really isn’t much to say about this one as it’s very similar to the last movie. Keanu Reeves is surprisingly not terrible. The action is again a highlight and it’s very well choreographed. The tone, the cinematography and camera work are all stellar.

The first John Wick was a personal revenge story that nicely sets up this sequel. If you mess with John Wick then you’d better start arranging your funeral because he’s coming! This one is more about introducing an overarching narrative, with giving Ian McShane’s character Winston a much bigger role and reminding John Wick that you can’t just retire from this world of dangerous assassins. It’s also dumb fun like the last movie so you don’t have to think too hard about the plot because I wasn’t really taking Winston too seriously when he said he’s like the master of all of the assassins or whatever.

There is dumb humour too which I will say doesn’t feel as forced as the last movie. What’s worse than the last movie is the main villain. This Italian guy is just underwhelming. He’s not threatening or interesting as all he does is taunt John Wick. He’s so pathetic that I don’t think you need John Wick to shut this guy up.

Another improvement is the ending which I won’t spoil but it did do a good job at making me excited to see what happens in the next sequel. That’s all I have. It’s a great follow up as it pretty much nails everything I wanted from the first John Wick.  It’s awesome!

5 – Watch Immediately

There is alot of new stuff coming your way this weekend but until then, I have been The Blog Complainer, Signing Out.

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