THE WORST OF 2019
2019 is nearly over, people! And with it comes the inevitable best of/worst of lists that always litter the internet in late December. As we don't want to buck the trend, here's our top genre picks of the year on the big - and small - screen.
Hellboy (Director: Neil Marshall)
Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
Goddammit! It’s one thing to take a beloved-but-dead franchise and reboot it before the previous story arc was completed. But it’s another thing to take a promising comic-book character and stuff it so full of source material that it will alienate much of the audience and upset purists of the character in the first place. But guessed what happened with this reboot earlier this year? Originally there was a backlash once it was confirmed that Guillermo Del Toro’s trilogy with Ron Perlman would never be concluded. Attitudes began to soften (a little) when Marshall was named as director, with David Harbour taking over as Big Red. There was more backlash regarding casting and an uninspiring first trailer. Then the second trailer hit with a cool remix of “Smoke on the Water” and red-band sweary one-liners. So, people gave it the benefit of the doubt again. *Ahem*. Hellboy (Harbour) faces off against Milla Jovovich’s Blood Queen as she tries to bring about Armageddon and seduce him to rule over Earth with him. First step: destroying bloody London and Tower Bridge once again. Apparently.
God, this is a mess! Kudos for keeping the action and screenplay firmly in R-rated territory, and bonus points for distracting viewers with Jovovich’s’ does-she-ever-bloody-age appearance. But despite a slight pang of guilty pleasure during the CGI bloodshed and dismemberments, this doesn’t engage or entertain on anywhere near the level that Del Toro’s films gave. There are no central relationships to compare to the romance with Liz Sherman or Bromance with Abe Sapien, or any genuine emotional connections. Instead it’s just scrambled lame lines of exposition, hurried plot development, and forced CG spectacles. And if you’ve watched the red-band trailer, you’ve basically seen/heard ALL the good bits! The main problem is that the narrative tries (and fails) to squeeze together 4 major comic-book arcs and another retelling of the origin into one cohesive story. Not only that, but they’ve also tried to slam in supporting characters like Lobster Johnson and Baba Yaga with absolutely no explanation for the non-comic-book-readers.
It really doesn’t work, despite Harbour giving it a good shot. The MCU has a lot to answer for really, with plenty of films just throwing fairly faithful comic-book references onto the screen and expecting that to take over from good story-telling. It doesn’t. Don’t expect the teasing sequel references to come to fruition as this made a loss at the box-office, although it was perceived by the powers-that-be to be due to a lack of interest in the franchise rather than a problematic production. Either just enjoy the red-band trailer on a loop on YouTube or watch Perlman’s version with 2WEI playing over the top of it.
Black Christmas (Director: Sophia Takal)
A group of female students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break. That is until the young sorority pledges discover that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy.
If “Us” and “A Christmas Carol” proved that you could take valid social issues and incorporate them into a compelling narrative, then this hugely disappointing remake (although it’s nothing of the sort) proves you can ruin it with the same intentions. A Blumhouse production and the only seasonal genre production this year, hopes were high for a quality reboot/remake of the perennial Xmas slasher. This was despite a 2006 prequel/remake from Glenn Morgan that expanded the back-story of “Billy” (the villain from the original 1974 film) which failed to ignite at the box-office. However, as details started to dribble out (it was PG13-rated, Billy wasn’t in the story, etc.), seasoned genre fans started to shake their heads, which was further compounded by a spoiler-heavy trailer that caused disappointment. Still, it was released cleverly on Friday the 13th of December in the US and UK. The narrative sees student Riley Stone (a thirtysomething Imogen Poots) become distressed as she’s targete