April 17, 2019

Curses, Camp and Stop-Motion Craft

Movie Dope

Shhh… This is where I tinkle.

Early screenings of Avengers: Endgame start next Thursday, Apr. 25, and many movies are already running scared. Not the Conjuring universe, which continues its expansion with The Curse of La Llorona, aka The Curse of the Weeping Woman. The tenuous connector is Annabelle’s Father Perez. Disney celebrates another Earth Day with another nature doc. You can probably guess the main subject of this year’s release from its title, Penguins. Easter weekend means a faith-based release. Breakthrough is another “impossible true story” from the producer of Miracles From Heaven, which came from producers of Heaven Is for Real. More interestingly, it is the feature directing debut of “Star Trek: Voyager”’s B’Elanna Torres, Roxann Dawson.

Around town, you can also enjoy several bloody features at Flicker. On Apr. 17, enjoy a double feature of I Drink Your Blood (Satanists, LSD, infected meat pies!) and Blood Beach (a creature eats beachgoers, with John Saxon as another probably-beleaguered cop). Both sound pretty fun. I still remember scanning the cover of Blood Beach during many a trip to ye olde video store. Pachinko Pop Cinema presents Abashiri Prison on Apr. 18. Make your own Bloody Mary during the Apr. 20 screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s excellent American epic, There Will Be Blood. I wonder if you can make a Bloody Mary milkshake.

Apr. 17 also includes a screening of Hidden Rivers at Ciné. This exploration of the rivers and streams of southern Appalachia is accompanied by a reception, exhibit and discussion. On Apr. 19, Ciné welcomes producer Alan Elliot for a screening of the Aretha Franklin concert documentary Amazing Grace. The film, directed by no less than Academy Award winner Sydney Pollack, documents the best-selling album of Franklin’s career, yet it sat in a vault for nearly 50 years. Other exciting events are planned to coincide with the film. Bad Movie Night returns to Ciné on Apr. 23 with Nightbeast—listen for music and sound effects from J.J. Abrams in his first ever film credit.

On Apr. 17, the ACC Library hosts a screening of The Unafraid, a documentary about three Georgia DACA students—a DACA-mentary, if you will—which will be followed by a Q&A with U-Lead students and mentors.

The 19th provides several more movie options. Movies on Tap at Southern Brewing Company features the 1998 stoner comedy Half Baked, which is best remembered now as a vehicle for Dave Chappelle, not Jim Breuer. The acclaimed Netflix documentary Chasing Coral will be shown at the UGA Ecology Building. Stick around for a Q&A with the UGA prof who served as a scientific advisor for the film. Finally, Movies at Tate offer second chances at Big Hero 6 and last year’s best animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Thematically, I wish they had paired the latter with Venom.

So, how were last week’s new movies, you ask? 

HELLBOY (R) I loved director Neil Marshall’s first three movies, and most of the new Hellboy’s problems should not be laid at his feet. Still, directors have to take the guff with the glory. Replacing beloved Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro and series star Ron Perlman was bound to lower expectations while also generating unnecessary negativity.

Marshall gets as much as possible out of a $50 million budget. Frenetic energy is virtually free; unfortunately, good FX are not. Marshall directs Hellboy like a real heavy-metal movie, tossing in the same gonzo forces that powered his excessively denigrated Doomsday, which I love. Hellboy possesses a wanton exuberance for the visceral—thanks, R rating!—and Hellboy’s fight with the grotesque Baba Yaga is a franchise highlight.

“Stranger Things” star David Harbour repeatedly nails Hellboy, and proves a worthy successor to Perlman. Unfortunately for him, the movie and the audience, screenwriter Andrew Cosby writes Hellboy as 65% petulant whiner and 35% appealing antihero. Hellboy is less a cinematic travesty than a wasted opportunity for its winning character, star and director, all of whom deserved better.  

MISSING LINK (PG) A lovely stop-motion family film, Missing Link offers much to enjoy for both young and old. A laughingstock to his adventuring colleagues, Sir Lionel Frost (v. Hugh Jackman), gets one last chance at glory, thanks to a sweet sasquatch named Susan (v. Zach Galifianakis), who needs assistance finding his missing Yeti cousins. Sir Lionel and Susan are joined by brave widow Adelina Fortnight (v. Zoe Saldana) and hunted by the villainous Willard Stenk (v. Timothy Olyphant).

Writer-director Chris Butler only has a few credits, but the importance lies in the quality of both ParaNorman (he both wrote and directed) and Kubo and the Two Strings (he co-wrote), not the quantity, or lack thereof, in his cinematic CV. Missing Link overwhelmingly possesses the charming qualities of understatement, creativity and unequivocally elegant animation to soar to the front of the 2019 animation queue.