Saturday, July 8, 2017

But I Digress... Bloody Hell: A Hellboy Reboot

By Cat

My love of comics goes back almost as far as I can remember. My dad had a huge collection of X-Men books, among others, when I was little. Sadly, those comics are all gone now; but my memories of listening to the radio while carefully turning the colorful pages will stick with me forever.

Needless to say, I started my own meager comic collection at a young age. I love the artwork and the stories, and there are characters dear to my heart for various reasons. My small collection isn’t anything grand or bank-worthy, but it’s priceless in sentimental value.

Where am I going with this? Ok so I did digress a little, but that’s the point here! I love comics and the shows and movies based on them. Some, of course, have been more successful than others. I commend the efforts all the same. It’s that concept that’s whirling around my head at the moment.

The latest comic book-to-screen announcement centers on the big red guy – Hellboy

It’s been nearly a decade since this particular devil fighting the darkness hit the screen. While I was aware of the character prior to the first two movies of Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), I wasn’t really an avid reader of that comic. All the same, I enjoyed those movies immensely. There was a certain magic that Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Strain, Crimson Peak) and Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy, Moonwalkers), along with the supporting cast, brought to the stories; infusing the tales with pathos and humor. 

The question of another sequel has been at the forefront of many fans’ minds in the years following. Perlman was well known as a champion of the Hellboy III cause. Alas, that vision won’t become a reality. Del Toro did, in fact, sit down with the powers that be and tried to hammer out the details to bring the endcap of his envisioned trilogy to the screen, but budget concerns seem to be what chimed its death knell.

Instead, a reboot ‘under new management’ was announced back in May of 2017. Cue the dramatic soap opera cliffhanger music in the background. (Dun dun DUNNNN!) Instead of revisiting the established story and bringing Del Toro’s apocalyptic prophecy to fruition, things are going to be switching gears – in an R-Rated direction with Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, which is the new film’s current working title.

See, this is where it got my attention. 

The success of other rated-R comic franchise features has dispelled that invisible wall of force that kept iconic comic characters in the bankable, but somewhat watered down, PG-13 range. While I’m sad that the creative team I love isn’t moving forward in this franchise, I seem to have a flicker of hope that I just may like this new movie in spite of my internal outcry of ‘not another reboot!’
(I mean seriously, WTF Hollywood.)

So let’s take a look at what we know so far. The Hellboy comic was created by Mike Mignola in 1993. Mignola was the first to announce the franchise relaunch on his Facebook in early May. He’s actively involved in the project - from drafting a version of the script, to championing the new director and cast, among other things. 

Who’s going to be helming this bloodier version, and who could possibly step into Perlman’s massive Big Red shoes? Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Centurion, Game of Thrones) is slated to direct with David Harbour (Snitch, The Newsroom, Suicide Squad) taking the title role. Fresh off of his role as the sheriff in Stranger Things (2016-), I can see elements of what would make him appealing in this role. Most sources, as well as IMDb cite him to be ‘rumored’ or in talks for the part still. I’m fairly sure that he’s landed the role, considering they’re fitting him for the Hand of Doom prosthetic in one of his Instagram photos. 

A post shared by David Harbour (@dkharbour) on

So far, Harbour does seem to have a grasp on the essence of Big Red. He was quoted in an article on TheWrap as saying, “He’s another complicated antihero who is not strictly good or bad, he’s just trying to do the right thing. I think he’s a demon, he’s crazy, and he’s also sweet and vulnerable and neurotic […] so there’s a lot of complexity there.”

I think I might just be able to get behind this. 

You might think that Perlman would be salty about the nuking of his plans to reprise the iconic role – especially after the social media campaign he and Del Toro conducted to gauge fan interest and his frequent rallying messages. Reality seems to point to the opposite, however; and it’s been said that he’s even figuratively ‘passed the torch’ over to his successor, Harbour.

Dreadcentral reported that Perlman addressed this at a Motor City Comic Con panel, saying “David Harbour is a good dude. I wish him nothing but the best when it comes to the retooling of HB.” Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return) even hosted what Perlman referred to as a 'detente dinner' to show the world that there isn't a beef between the former and newly minted embodiments of the role. 

Image Source: Movieweb
What can we expect from this new movie? All signs point in the direction of a return to the essence of the source material. I happened upon a podcast interview with director, Neil Marshall, which was cited in an article on Movieweb. I popped over to listen to the interview in its entirety, and they start talking about Hellboy in the last 10 minutes or so. 

I found it refreshing that he said "…when you go back to the original materials, it is kinda bloody so I'm going to embrace that…" in response to a query regarding the freedom of the R-Rating.

Marshall is fresh off of directing some premium television shows for the likes of Netflix and HBO, but has been yearning to direct another feature for some time. He favors doing as many practical effects as possible so that CGI expands the world rather than replacing it, and is known for brilliant action sequences in his work. He’s even a fan of the horror genre; but also cites Star Wars (1977) as sparking his love of movies when he was young, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) as fueling his desire to make them. 

Director Neil Marshall behind the scenes on The Descent (2005)

This new horroresque vision of this retooling, is also reinforced by screenwriter Andrew Cosby (Eureka, Haunted, 2 Guns) in his exclusive interview with Silverscreenbeat. He had this to say about the tone of the new movie: “... I can say that this is a darker, more gruesome version of Hellboy... Neil said from the very beginning that he wanted to walk a razor’s edge between horror and comic book movie, which was music to my ears, because that’s what I was shooting for in the script, and precisely what Mignola does so well with the comics.”

Filming for Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen is said to start this coming fall in Bulgaria. A release date hasn’t yet been announced but it is said that the script is done. With writers and producers lined up and Lionsgate poised to distribute, it seems like this production will be getting off the ground sooner rather than later. 

When I first heard the news, I must admit that I was upset and even angry that the original storyline wouldn't be finished, in spite of all the campaigning and hopes of Perlman, Del Toro, and many fans. Though, in searching out the pieces to this puzzling turn of events, I find that I am reluctantly looking forward to this new movie; and can only hope that the production team utilizes all of the tools at their disposal to make this epic. Otherwise, failure might send this beloved franchise straight to the hell its titular character hails from.

Mike Mignola's Official Site Found Here.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

Friday, July 7, 2017

TE3N (2016)

Number Rolled: 80
Movie Name/Year: TE3N (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Blue Waters Motion Pictures, Cinemaa, EndemolShine India, Kross Pictures
Producer: Mohammed Attarwala, Saubhik Das, Deepak Dhar, Abhijit Ghatak, Sujoy Ghosh, Hyunwoo Thomas Kim, Woo-taek Kim, Ram Mirchandani, Suresh Nair, Ramesh Pulapaka, Sameer Rajendran, Gauri Sathe, Aniruddh Tanwar, Gulab Singh Tanwar, Vivek Tewari
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Writer: Bijesh Jayarajan, Geun-seop Jeong, Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Mukesh Chhabra, Prakash Belawadi, Ricky Patel, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Padmavati Rao, Suneel Sinha, Anupam Bhattacharya, Deblina Chakraborty, Aarnaa Sharma
Stunts: Shyam Kaushal

Blurb from Netflix: Still desperate to find his granddaughter nearly a decade after her kidnapping, a devoted grandfather chases a dangerous new lead.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m waffling back and forth on this film.

On one hand, there were some issues with TE3N.

The pacing of the film was a little on the slow side for me. I wound up bored a lot.

The way the story was told also required jumping back and forth between various characters. One part would be speeding up story-wise while the next was just another 10 minutes of watching the character say the same thing over and over. It was a little difficult to care at times.

The plot itself was also pretty typical. We watched a film with a similar plot only a few weeks ago for Foreign Film Friday. The main difference is that the other one was an action, where-as this one was a drama. I know it also says ‘thriller’ but I disagree with that genre for this film.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the ending of TE3N. I did eventually see it coming, but I didn’t at first. The story was told in such a way that it was easy to overlook the foreshadowing on it. I like that.

The acting also wasn’t bad. There were a few moments and actors I couldn’t really see as good, but the rest of it was decent.

I do think I’ll remember this film fondly, simply because the ending was that good, but I doubt I’d go around recommending it to people.

Cat’s Point of View:
I went into this Foreign Film Friday blind. I didn’t even realize this was going to be a Hindi movie until I pulled it up on Netflix just before clicking ‘play.’ I didn’t really have any preconceived notions about the film.

Chalk this up to one of those times that the movie’s title is such an obscure reference to the film that it baffles nearly everyone. TE3N conjured up an idea of something modern or having more to do with computers.

Of course, that could just be my inner geek whispering red herrings at me; but I digress.

This was pretty cut and dry as a drama rolled up in a mystery. Though, I do want to give two thumbs up to the person in charge of both the soundtrack and the subtitles for this film. 

Not only was the music on point to evoke the emotions of the story, but they did a great job in putting a translation on the screen for everyone to understand. The score was moving and added an elevated dimension to the movie.

At some point, I forgot I was reading the screen as I watched. It had nothing to do with understanding Hindi and everything to do with falling down the rabbit hole of this tale. My heart was in my throat for much of this film and my insides twisted. There were some ugly tears. We’ve established I’m a crier by now, right? This one gave me plenty of reason to leak all over the place as it sucker-punched me in the feels and twisted my mind into a pretzel. That’s a good thing, though.

I absolutely loved this movie. I can’t say that I’d watch it again, but only because it touches on a topic that leaves me with a queasy feeling. It has nothing to do with the film, itself. I would certainly recommend it.

Speech Available: Hindi
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – 7/10
IMDB Score – 7.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bad Ass (2012)

Number Rolled: 12
Movie Name/Year: Bad Ass (2012)
Tagline: They messed with the wrong senior citizen.
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Amber Lamps, Silver Nitrate
Producer: Jim Busfield, Ben Feingold, Ash R. Shah
Director: Craig Moss
Writer: Craig Moss, Elliot Tishman
Actors: Danny Trejo, Charles S. Dutton, Patrick Fabian, Joyful Drake, John Duffy, Harrison Page, Richard Riehle, Winter Ave Zoli, Tonito Castro, Andy Davoli, Patricia De Leon, Frank Maharajh, Jillian Murray, Shalim Ortiz, Craid Sheffer, Chris Spencer, Ron Perlman, John Dixon, Kevin Patrick Burke
Stunt Doubles: Damien Bray, Norman Mora

Blurb from Netflix: Loosely based on a true incident, this tale follows a lonely Vietnam vet who bravely takes on two menacing hoods on a bus.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was expecting a much lower quality B-movie than I got. I was incredibly happy with this film.

I really love Danny Trejo (Shoot the Hero, All About the Money, Enter the Fist and the Golden Fleece). He’s entertaining as all hell to watch. I know I say a lot about ‘old guy in an action flick’ type of films, but this totally doesn’t qualify. Trejo is not an old guy in an action film. He’s the embodiment of the action genre. Seeing him outside of an action film is weird and, quite frankly, most action films could benefit from his involvement.

If he ever retires from acting, he should at least stay on as some kind of consultant, because Trejo knows what he’s doing.

As for the rest of the film… I’m in love with it. It was brutal and dramatic, but kind of funny. It was exactly the kind of action movie I gravitate toward.

I didn’t like the guy they used for the young version of the main character (Frank Vega). The actor, Shalim Ortiz (Lady of Steel, American Curious, Loki 7), was fine. He did perfectly well in his part. His acting wasn’t the issue. I just don’t think he looked enough like Danny Trejo for me to believe that he was a younger version of Vega.

That one issue could have been fixed by a little more work from the makeup department. I think it was the makeup department head, Myriam Arougheti (The Good Neighbor, Benched, Trophy Wife), that dropped the ball. I don’t think it was the casting directors, Shannon Makhanian (A Dark Reflection, Intruders, Dirty Lies) and Mary Jo Slater (Perception, The Forger, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective).

I’d recommend this film in heartbeat.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was excited to ‘roll up on’ this movie. (I couldn’t help it.)

Danny Trejo (The Ridiculous 6, Cyborg X, Storks) is always entertaining to watch – whether he’s delivering a tongue-in-cheek performance of a character stereotyped to his looks, or a role of more substance.

This film was no exception.

This was the perfect movie to cap off my 4th of July holiday festivities with. It had heart, comedy, and plenty of action. There was some heavy stuff going on but it didn’t feel too much. The dark humor helped that a lot, I think.

There were a few moments I gasped, and others that I cringed – but not in the bad way. I can honestly say that the story was refreshingly unexpected. Of course, elements in this sort of film are easily predictable if you are trying; but I wasn’t. I was just enjoying the ride.

I also find it fascinating that this was somewhat based on a true story – as far as the older bus-line hero goes, at least.

I would have no qualms whatsoever in recommending this movie, and I’m actually looking forward to watching the sequel.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 20%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 39%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Zoombies (2015)

Number Rolled: 45
Movie Name/Year: Zoombies (2015)
Tagline: Uncaged. Undead.
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: The Asylum
Producer: Paul Bales, Lauren Elizabeth Hood, David Michael Latt, David Rimawi
Director: Glenn Miller
Writer: Scotty Mullen
Actors: Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, LaLa Nestor, Kim Nielsen, Marcus Anderson, Brianna Joy Chomer, Ivan Djurovic, Aaron Groben, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau, William McMichael, Reuben Uy, Isaac Anderson, Tammy Klein, Ikaika, Joe Conti, Noa Pharaoh, Jennifer Titus, Michael Delgado, Jay Kwon, Bryan Sloyer
Stunt Performers: Jay Kwon, Bryan Sloyer

Blurb from Netflix: A zombie virus turns a zoo full of animals undead and bloodthirsty. If they escape the zoo, the whole city will be in danger.

Selina’s Point of View:
Ah, Asylum. How I’ve missed thee.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had an Asylum film, hasn’t it? Well, they haven’t changed since our last one. Aside from the one or two movies/series where the production company strikes gold, the rest of their films are borderline unwatchable or just barely mediocre.

Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

What I would like to remind everyone before I continue, is that we here at Trust the Dice don’t judge a film by much more than entertainment value. 

Is it enjoyable to watch? That’s the question we seek to answer. We may occasionally make comments about a technique or use a technical term, but what it boils down to is whether or not you would rather be watching grass grow than the film.

If I were to technically critique this film, there’d be a lot to say. The man in a monkey suit that was portraying Kifo looked nothing like the computer generated Kifo that the camera kept cutting to. There were continuity problems, plot holes, script issues, and the acting was horrific. That’s just a few, among many, issues.

Entertainment wise, I was amused. It was like watching Jurassic Park (1993) if it’d been written by a six-year-old and directed by high schoolers.

I do have to throw some credit in the direction of child actor LaLa Nestor (Dimension 404, A Lovely Afternoon, Lemonade Mafia), though. She had a couple of really interesting moments. I could see her growing out the B-movie game and into something more tangible.

Although, I probably wouldn’t choose to watch this movie alone again, if you want some cheap amusement and you’ve gathered a group of friends, it would be fun to watch like that.

It was definitely more of a ‘mock it together’ than ‘mock it alone’ film.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie just might fall under the ‘be careful what you wish for’ category. I’m not talking about the plot of the film, however.

I’ve been wanting to watch this movie since I first noticed it on Netflix. The concept had all the makings for something really cool – or something utterly horrible. I did, at least, realize that from the outset.

Do I think this was something really horrible? No – but it wasn’t all that good, either.

There’s some funny camerawork, a few gaping plot holes, some unrealistic action (mostly in physical reaction of characters being ‘thrown’), and that just scratches the surface. I’m afraid there wasn’t enough humor or camp to elevate the material so that the weaker elements of the movie didn’t stand out as much or could be forgiven.

I will give the production team props for the effects, though. Sure, they weren’t always the best – and they certainly weren’t on par with most of mainstream Hollywood; but they were fairly decent for a B-movie such as this.

The cast was diverse and interesting. No one was wooden in their performances, but I don’t really feel like there was enough character development in some places. Even with that said, the core of the underlying story was clear; so at least there’s that.

When I can get interrupted with 10 minutes left of a movie and not get irked about the delay of finding out what happens in the ending, I know I’m not all that invested in the film to begin with. (Brunch at IHOP and a 5-person Pokémon Go raid against a Tyranitar boss was incentive enough. But I digress…)

All said, I’m fairly meh about the movie. I doubt that I would recommend it to others when there are so many better B-movies out there. If they ever make a sequel, though, I might just give it a try to see if they step up their game.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 16%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5

Movie Trailer: