Saturday, April 03, 2004

a regal double bill

Hadn't done this in a long while. Two new releases. Back-to-back.

Dawn of the Dead: Zack Snyder's retake of the second edition of Romero's cult trilogy works surprisingly well. The allegory of the shopping mall is not as elaborate as in the original, and the gore is also toned down. Not much of a score either. Nevertheless, right from the Carmageddon-esque pre-credits sequence to the Romero-esque opening credits (blood red against black), through the time spent getting to the mall, defending it, and making a break to the shore, this is an engaging flick. Snyder even takes liberties by making his zombies move just as fast as regular human beings, which makes them even scarier. The downbeat ending (spliced with the credits and aurally enhanced by thrash music) is predictable, but does not ever stretch beyond a few glimpses that make their point. Some of the old cast are back in cameos. The Alamo chess set was cool. And it's interesting how the simple tale gains more resonance with the zeitgeist so many years later.

Hellboy: I agree with Roger Ebert that Guillermo del Toro's adaptation feels like a comic book. There is a seriousness and respect for the source material and its mood (last seen to a great extent in Tim Burton's Batman, although that got a lot of the back-stories fudged and mutilated!). I had enthusiastically recommended del Toro's Cronos for a CAN group screening based purely on extracts I had seen in a Barry Norman review. And then I got a chance to catch his roach flick Mimic. Although the latter could be beaten up for numerous howlers, I still liked the atmosphere and tone, and the overall look of the film. There's a lot of that in Hellboy too. Ron Perlman (seen in Cronos) seems destined to play the lead role, and attacks it with a sincerity and gusto that endears. There's John Hurt (virtually unrecognizable) and the usual plot elements for a "flick based on a ton of comic book myth that must tell it all in a very very short time". Loved the SFX. Loved the intense elements (that Rasputin would appear in all this seemed to make a strange kind of sense). Rotten eggs and the safety of mankind.

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