Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Golden Army

The lights rose, and a teenage girl ambled to the front of the auditorium, a tray of assorted Ben and Jerry's suspended from a strap around her neck.

"Would anyone like some ice cream?" she asked.

"I like your arse more than your ice cream," retorted one of the boys behind me.

The girl walked silently back down the aisle. "Thanks for asking, though," said the boy as she passed.

This was The Screen in Winchester, a freezing cold, half-empty shithole of a cinema. It was like a trip back into the 1970s. The fuckwits a few rows behind me literally talked throughout the entire film. So it was just as well that I was watching Hellboy II, and the almost incessant clanging, smashing, bashing and exploding drowned out most of the sound from the fuckwits.

It was a remarkable film though. Guillermo del Toro's gothic and fantasy imagination is quite stupendous, and if he keeps up this type of form, The Hobbit is going to be truly memorable. There was one monster, a type of elemental forest spirit, "the last of its kind", which rose about the cityscape like a ferocious, whirling Tree-Ent; when it died, its remains transformed all it touched to verdant grass, tree and flower. And then there were the Tooth-Fairies: these swarmed like locust, consuming all flesh and bone in their path, but their particular delicacy was, of course, human teeth.

The only criticism I would pitch at the film is that, like Blade II and Hellboy I, there's an awful lot of Monster vs. Monster combat. Stylistically, this type of thing seems to match the action found within many modern computer games, and it doesn't really do much for me. I guess this is Guillermo doing the commercial thing, keeping his Hollywood patrons happy, so that he can also make films like Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone.

Incidentally, the basic plot for Hellboy II involved an ancient, apocalyptic battle between man and elf; it was almost as if Guillermo was visibly limbering up for The Hobbit...

1 comment:

Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Roger. I really liked Pan's Labyrinth, so going to put The Devil's Backbone on my list. Very engaging review, I thought, the detail of the cinema really drew me in The last time I went to the cinema I had a similar experience - as well as sitting in what felt close to a dustbin - there were some mothers with children. The kids were OK but the mothers just talked the whole way through. I don't think they watched the film at all.