Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is Red Dead?

I saw a TV ad for "Hellboy II" for the first time the other day. As with a lot of movies lately, it looked absolutely spectacular. Obviously, their CG budget for this round has been seriously juiced. The number of characters involved appears to have increased by a factor of 1,000. Great character design, CG lighting and FX. Very cool.

And then I started listening to the dialog. Hellboy (Ron Perlman), known for witty, edgy banter, uttered such zingers as "And stay down" and "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Hey... funny stuff.

So I went to the Apple trailers sub-site and rolled 'em.

Trailer 1: Very serious. Drama-rock soundtrack and dark VO, over cuts of the action. About 3/4 of the way through, HB gets to say "Now you pissed me off" out of context, which sucks all the comedy out of it-- if there was any to begin with. But at least he's allowed to utter one "ohhh crap" at the end of the trailer. Mr. Perlman's read on that line is always enjoyable, but it's just not enough to overcome the brooding nouveau-goth fanboy atmo of the trailer.

Trailer 2: Just a tad lighter. But not really much funny in there.

Trailer 3: Mostly more of the same. Red calls Liz (Selma Blair) "babe". She protests. "I said 'Abe'!" he retorts.

Are these the funniest lines in the movie?

The VO artist talks about "The visionary director of 'Pan's Labyrinth'"... and that would be Guillermo del Toro, who also directed the first "Hellboy." Which was a lot funnier than these trailers.

Has Guillermo bought the PL hype and directed a "visionary" movie that leaves behind all of that much-loved Hellboy comic-world snark?

Or have Universal's marketing department and the trailer cutter decided to go purely with the visionary vibe, at the expense of a few laughs before show time?

I can't say, but I'll definitely be seeing this in the theater, funny or not.

I'm a sucker for science fiction with high production value. I also like well-done effects, and production designer Stephen Scott has apparently brought his A+ game this time out.

Selma Blair looks spooky-cute-beautiful as always. (But her flames are reddish orange in the one shot I saw. Is it just me, or is that HB1 slomo shot of her engulfed in blue flames, turning past camera, eyes shining with reflected heat just the most erotic non-nude closeup ever created? Let's all join hands and pray for blue flames in HB2.)

On a fishier note, it sounds as though David Hyde Pierce is MIA as the voice of Abe Sapien. Is Doug Jackson voicing the character himself? He's billed as playing "Abe Sapien / The Chamberlain / The Angel of Death" on IMDb. Busy guy.

And what's with the Stargate-Wraith wannabes?

Well, here's hoping Ron is allowed to let his usual wry self shine through... regardless of how thick the red paint and prosthetics get. Bring on the whammer, baby.

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