Hell Boy (2004)

Like I said earlier, I’m always up for a good comic book flick. I’ve never read Hell Boy, and the trailer for the movie looked so-so to me, but my gf wanted to see it bad so we went (would have waited for a rental..). No real complaints but far from the best I’ve seen… I didn’t care for the whole Nazi setup (I guess it must have been in the comic – if it wasn’t, shoot the moron who though it up for a recent movie.. but since it deals with the origin of the character, my guess is it’s from the source material..). The was a lot, and I do mean a _lot_ of scenes that could have been shorter or cut entirely. The movie is some 2 hours long, could easily clock at 90 minutes with some editing imho. Not that it was bad per say, but it would have been a lot tighter and left a better taste in my mouth going out of the screening room (or maybe it was the large purple ‘slush’ I had..).

The characters were good. The makeup simply amazing. The effects juste nicely dosed. With some slight modifications it would have been really a great movie to me, but as is I can only say ‘hmmm.’ Rental? an excellent choice. Big screen? if there’s nothing more interesting to you. Buy? Probably not.

The Last Samurai (2003)

The first trailers for this one had me cringing – I mean Tom Cruise as a samurai ?? wtf? But the lukewarm reception the flick had on the big screen made me wonder and look a bit more into it.. And then it looked better and better the more I was seeing of the flick (of course that made me wonder if I was seeing _all_ the good bits?). So I wanted to see it. My gf too. But suddenly it stopped playing anywhere in the area and we had missed it. D’oh!

So we saw it as a rental on DVD last night. Damn I regret missing it at the cineplex! It was simply awesome. I’m a Japan affectionado, been there once (so far) and loved everything in the movie. The whole thing was done clearly with a desire to stay true to the real Samurai spirit and there was evident painstaking attention to details everywhere. From what I could tell from my rudimentary knowledge of the Japanese language, everything was excellent and even Cruise put a lot of effort in his pronunciation. I didn’t think he could do a good job in a true samurai picture, but the guy has been doing his homework, plus a lot of training, and it shows. I mean it still looks odd by moment to see Mr Hollywood with the white smile a mile long in the middle of rural 1800s Japan, but I’d be hard pressed right now to cast someone else in the role having seen what he’s done with it. Amazing.

The story takes place in Japan in the late 1800s. Emperor Meiji is young, wants to modernize Japan with the knowledge and ways of the West, but is caught between the businessmen in his advisors and the last Samurai at his service. Cruise is hired by the Japanese to train an army to combat the Rebels. I’ll just leave it at that.

There was _some_ areas I wish they’d go to in more details, dealing with Cruise’s back story. He has a lot of nightmares from his ‘previous’ life in the american army fighting the Indians, but his relationship with the tribes is left to stipulation – was he just a soldier (a captain actually) disgusted by what his army was doing, or did he have contact with the ennemy somehow ? It looks like a parralel is made with the situation in Japan but it’s never fully exposed. I haven’t watched all the extras, maybe it was in the deleted scenes.

Technically the DVD is excellent. Vibrant colors, excellent surround sound. (I always love when sound from the back speakers make me check if there’s something making noise in the next room..) Loaded with extras, included on a second dvd. I might wait a bit for a price drop because the purse is tight at the moment, but I’m definitely buying this one to add to my collection. Just a must.