City of Lost Children

Film, 1995

If the idea of an intricately plotted, dark, whimsical sci-fi fairy tale sounds good to you, you’re not going to do much better than this. It’s actually a really sophisticated movie despite the extreme genre mixing involved (although it could have sacrificed some of it’s intricate plot for a little more humanity). High marks for astounding visuals across the board that give the movie a unique personality. 4


Coraline

Film, 2009

Coraline is one of those movies in which it not only seems like everything is done exceptionally well, but the parts come together in a perfect storm that elevates it to a height that you feel like no one could have reached purpose. Cases in point; The sound design is very atmospherically effective; it makes everything seem unsettlingly empty. The music is great; It’s really refreshing to hear something accompany this type of material that’s at least a little bit of a departure from Danny Elfman. The visuals are, obviously, unbelievable. The animation is, if anything, too slick. So slick that someone not in the know beforehand would probably assume that it was CGI. It reserves it’s true visual weirdness until the end, making for one of the most thrilling final third acts in recent memory. I’m sure that a part of my enthusiasm has to do with the fact that the theater I saw it in was running it in 3D, which was the best I’ve ever seen. The writing is unlike any other mainstream American film in recent memory in that it isn’t desperately trying to sell itself to the audience. There aren’t any stupid jokes, there are no winks at the audience and there’s no tacked on sentimentality. But above all else it’s a REALLY GOOD MOVIE. It’s exciting and scary, just like you want it to be.
I never thought that I would ever rate a movie this highly, but I think Coraline succeeds brilliantly at everything it does. I really wish I thought there was something wrong with this film so I could only give it four and a half stars… but I’m coming up blank. 5


The Fountain

Film, 2006

It was pretty much predetermined that I would like this movie. First of all, because of it’s reception. Anything that everyone seems to have a unique and passionate opinion about, I usually like. (Especially if a healthy number of people DIDN’T enjoy it.) Secondly, because it’s a thoughtful and fantastic (in the “out of this world” sense of the word) film that lets you think for yourself just as much as it entertains you. It’s beautiful and expressive, and everyone can come away with something different from it. Thirdly, it’s entertaining to watch.
I can understand why people didn’t like it. It’s very serious and it’s more than just entertainment- two things that often spell death at the box office. Also, it’s not perfect; it might be a tad TOO serious and the symbolism is occasionally a little painfully obvious. But these are minor, minor gripes and I don’t know why they would get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment of the picture. This level of intelligent, entertaining and well made cinema is a very rare find. 4.5


Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I find that del Toro’s movies are only as good as they are bad; for everything that makes them great, there’s something that makes them not great. But in the end, I think the good outweighs the bad, and what you’re left with is a movie you really enjoyed… with just a few nagging points that you can’t let go of. This is the case again with Hellboy 2. The visuals are undoubtedly some of the technically best and most beautiful ever committed to film, and the pace of the thing and it’s action scenes are relentlessly fun; you’re never bored. But I just wonder why they felt like they had to make it so STUPID? Stupid jokes and stupid characters (especially when compared to the material they’re based on). Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE stupid jokes. And there are a few here that work. But more often than not, I thought they fell flat. I was also pretty disappointed in Jeffery Tambor’s boring performance, as he was one of the best parts of the original. I think what they really got right with this one over the original is that they stopped trying to make a visual version of a Mike Mignola comic, and just tried to make it a Guillermo del Toro movie. 3.5/5