After the solid “Hellboy” (2004) laid the groundwork, director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro and his team get to play in their sandbox in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008) – and boy, do they have fun, as did I while watching it. The top-shelf production design is still there, but now with a steampunk-meets-fantasy flavor. We visit a troll market that’s like an underground version of “Valerian’s” open-air market, and meet a secret agent named Johann (for some reason voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who is literally a cloud of vapor contained in a deep-sea diver’s suit.
Director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro and his team wonderfully bring Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comic book to the big screen in a 2004 film that has such top-shelf production design that it almost overshadows the story and characters. But not quite; Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is a likably gruff hero whose relationships with his adoptive father (John Hurt as Dr. Broom) and the woman he loves (Selma Blair as Liz) shine through.
Working from a screenplay by returning writer David S. Goyer, Guillermo del Toro probably didn’t know it at the time, but he directs “Blade II” (2002) as a trial run for “The Strain,” his 2014-17 TV series. The creature effects are strikingly similar across both projects, namely the next strain of vampires. In “Blade II,” their human mouths open “Predator”-style, and in “The Strain,” they reveal tubes that can strike from a distance — “Alien”-style, to the extreme.
“The Shape of Water” – “The Shape of Water” has probably the most sumptuous visuals of any film released this year. Every second of the film is pure art, fit for framing. It is also incredibly moving and magical. Director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro hides multiple stories of self-discovery in a deceptively simple tale of a woman falling in love with a merman. With nary a word uttered by either of them, Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones command the screen, turning in performances that by turns elicit laughter and heartbreak. The evocative mood of the film is utterly transporting, helped along not just by the visuals, but by Alexandre Desplat’s masterful score, which is the best of 2017.
– Michael Olinger, Top 20 films of 2017, Jan. 21, 2018
Director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro puts a lot of winning elements from successful films into a blender and delivers “The Shape of Water” (2017), now in theatrical wide release. Mixing familiar substance with loads of style, this Oscar-y yet accessible movie carves off bits of “E.T.,” “Splash,” “Splice,” “The Help,” “Big Fish” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and throws in Michael Shannon’s skill at playing a villain and Octavia Spencer’s specialty as the chatty best friend to create a foundation for a sweet love story.
A couple seasons ago on “The Walking Dead,” Rick and the gang agree to march toward Washington, D.C., on Eugene’s promise that there was a governmental structure in place working against the zombie plague. While the characters never spoke in-depth about the question of whether the government – which demonstrably failed to stop the zombie plague — should be trusted, I felt strongly that once the gang got to D.C., they would not find a safe government-run utopia.
Entertainment trends are a funny thing. Horror movie releases have slowed to a trickle, whereas a decade ago there was a new one in theaters every week. But horror TV shows were rare then, whereas today, the boob tube is covered with them. Even though horror is still scarier on the big screen for obvious reasons, TV is making a strong case as a home for horror in 2015 — some of the best horror TV ever made, actually.
Through five episodes, “The Strain” (8 p.m. Central Sundays on FX) is already shaping up to be one of the best horror TV shows ever. Its combination of wonderful Guillermo del Toro-style mood along with believable modern special effects would make for a fine horror flick, but the fact that it’s a 13-episode miniseries allows for more depth.
On the heels of “Fargo,” FX continues its miniseries winning streak with “The Strain” (9 p.m. Central Sundays on FX), based on a novel and Dark Horse comic book series. Like “Fargo” and the more open-ended “The Bridge” (now in its second season), “The Strain” is deliciously and darkly stylish, as one would expect from co-producer Guillermo del Toro, who is also credited as a writer and director on some upcoming episodes.