blogscales: the last winter, hellboy 2: the golden army, zebraman, star wars: the clone wars

Computer-generated Portman: a thing of beauty and a treasure to keep, or technology gone mad?

The Last Winter (2006) - I've been searching for a word or phrase to describe what Larry Fessenden does in the last ten minutes of his careful, spooky tale of environmental collapse in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: is 'ruin' the right way to put it? How about 'cop-out'? Or plain old 'cowardice'?

Up to those last couple of scenes of The Last Winter, Fessenden gives us what could be the first real horror movie for the age of nature - what Thomas Homer-Dixon describes as the time when we really remember that when there's trouble in nature, there's trouble for us, too - and a potential new genre classic, with echoes of Carpenter's steady, expert control in The Thing (1982), the even-better-cause-you-can't-see-em thrills of The Haunting (1963), the masterful Long Weekend (1978), and An Inconvenient Truth (2006) - bundled up with a great cast led by James LeGros and Ron Perlman, excellent cinematography, and above all, a whip-smart story...and then he chucks it all out the window for the computer-animated equivalent of a monster in a rubber suit and googly eyes. In fact, a character actually stands and points it out to us. One scene doth not a movie make, but the climax of the movie's probably among those scenes that can. Fessenden's movie ends up being more a frustrating puzzle because of some decisions he made rather than the story he told - indeed, you end up wondering about all the movie you just watched because the reveal was just this side of Troma. And it's a shame, a real shame. The Last Winter could've been a contender.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) - Minus John Hurt's paranormal dad - neither a mutant or bland homo sapien, his presence was the gentle hidden hand of the first Hellboy (2004) film - The Golden Army is little more than a ho-hum interlude between origin story and a sure-to-be-three, lapsing into long stretches of whining from Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Ron Perlman's Hellboy, punctuated by an occasional sexy stare from a bored Selma Blair. A couple of sojurns to fairyland stand out, and there seems to be an attempt at some eco-messaging, but the former's just indulgence and the latter's too little, too late. I thoroughly enjoyed watching these characters live their weird superhero lives the first time around, and hoped this would be del Toro Unchained; instead, it's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) meets Labryinth (1986), two great tastes which do not taste great together. Yuck.

Zebraman (2005) - A superhero flick for kids from the director Audition (1999) and Gozu (2003) should've been some work of terrible genius. Instead, Japan's man of many genres sets up with some light satire and a warmly comic main character - an alienated, ineffectual teacher and father who spends his every spare moment dreaming about a minor television superhero from his youth, Zebraman, finally decides to become his childhood hero - and clocks out midway through his own movie, leaving us with chop-socky leftovers.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) - Yeah, I fuckin' watched this shit: fuckin' clone army, fuckin' Ahsoka Tano, fuckin' Jabba the Hutt's uncle. Fuck yeah, I fuckin' watched it. Watched the whole fuckin' thing...what, are you perfect, motherfuckers? Are you all some sort of cinema saints? No, you're not, so go fuck yourselves.

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