This summer we saw two big summer blockbusters hit our screens, and both were commercial and critical hits – but now, having sat through both twice, what is my final opinion on both films failing and successes? Are they worthy of a high placing in my end of year top ten, or has a second viewing changed all that?
The Dark Knight
This is probably the most celebrated movie of the year, and Oscar rumours are rife both for tragic star Heath Ledger as the Joker and the film itself. Yet I haven’t changed my mind about this movie – the opening hour is just not very enjoyable- its very talky, slow and to put it bluntly – boring. Thankfully the rest of the movie is much more satisfying, but I can see the first hour loosing 50% of the audience there and then. This is a movie that should have been a solid 2 hours, with some elements removed entirely (do we really care about Harvey Dent?). When the Joker is on screen the film is a joy – when he’s not, a lacklustre Batman with dodgy gravelly voice just feels silly and out of place. Yet at the end of the day what comes in the last 90 minutes is pure class, edge of your seat, superbly executed thrills – so thats Ok then. It’s still a 4 in my book though.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Here’s a movie with no such lofty ambitions other than to entertain and make you gasp. The general joy to behold is the sheer imagination on display that still makes this a solid 5 in my opinion. It gets going immediately, has bags of personality, and central characters you really do like and feel something for. So what if Luke Goss’ Prince Nuada seems to be making it up as he goes along, and his motives not entirely clear. Oh and the climactic Golden Army stand off is anti-climactic. Maybe some of the slapstick is a touch heavy handed, and its not as funny as when I first watched it, so the gags aren’t keepers. But this is the polar opposite to The Dark Knight, that although steeped in fantasy and comic book style, is just a helluva lot more fun!
Both films are presented very well on DVD and have excellent picture and sound quality, both eye-catching in very different ways. The extras on Hellboy 2 consist of 2 commentaries for the film, exhaustive behind the scenes footage with in-depth reports on the fantastic creature designs and interviews with Guillermo Del Toro and key cast members & effects guys. Packed.
The Dark Knight fairs a little worse but has several behind the scenes documentaries and interviews, but is missing a very much wanted commentary. Saying that we do get 6 episodes of a spoof news show that sheds a lot of light on the films many plot strands. I just feel an even more special edition may be on its way.