Hellboy II: The Golden Army
directed by Guillermo del Toro
Fans of Mike Mignola’s comic book series can rejoice in Guillermo del Toro’s sequel. Who doesn’t find themselves drawn to Ron Perlman as the lovable superhero from hell? After all, the man’s pretty much got the role nailed—it’s been his signature character ever since Hellboy hit theaters in 2004. And although the first movie scooped up a modest $59 million at the box office, we’re figuring del Toro’s second go-around may garner more success. It is, after all, his first movie since the 2006 surprise foreign language hit, Pan’s Labyrinth. As the movie’s writer-director del Toro will undoubtedly meet or exceed the expectations of his audience, for—as his previous work demonstrates—he is clearly a master at both horrifying and stunning them. If you have no interest in comics, it may be worth viewing this sequel just to take a journey into another of cinematographer Guillermo Navarro’s decadent playgrounds.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
directed by Eric Brevig
For his first feature film, director Eric Brevig, an experienced visual effects supervisor with numerous films to his credit, has created an entirely digital remake of the 1959 Oscar-nominated original. The story follows a group of explorers, led by geologist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser, who has somehow made a transition to action films since his days as Encino Man), on a mission to find a lost brother. In the meantime, they discover an entirely new world within the planet’s inner depths. Advertised as the first 3D live-action movie that does not mix digital and analog media, Journey to the Center of the Earth seems to be successful in its use of technology, but as for its storyline and acting choices, we’re skeptical. Sure, Fraser can pull off a harried, buff scientist just as well—or better than—many of his comrades, but we wonder if this is just another extension of his days with The Mummy. Brevig supposedly had complete control over each shot—necessary in order to focus the viewer’s gaze when using this new 3D technology—so here’s to hoping he coaxed out some great performances and developed some engaging special effects.
directed by Brian Robbins
Eddie Murphy tackles the sci-fi genre once again, reuniting with his Norbit director Brian Robbins. It’s hard to resist asking: After Murphy’s last sci-fi comedy flop, The Adventures of Pluto Nash—forget the duo’s aforementioned combined effort—why another? The actor’s career has become an undefinable blur of failed comedies, each one becoming more ridiculous than the next. Okay, we give him credit for that 2007 Oscar nomination, but with Meet Dave he might’ve just burned up all of the credit he built up with the role in Dreamgirls. The movie tells the story of a crew of tiny aliens who control a spaceship inside of Eddie Murphy’s brain. Need we say more?
directed by Austin Chick
August, co-produced by and starring Josh Hartnett, depicts a story of the summer before the “fall.” Hartnett plays a Wall Street tycoon whose internet business and personal life is crumbling in the weeks leading up to 9/11. The movie is Hartnett’s first venture into producing and only the second feature for director Austin Chick, but together the men seem to have the experience needed for a quality independent drama. Chick’s first movie, XX/XY was nominated for a Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2002 while Hartnett has long worked with some of the industry’s top players. Writer Howard A. Rodman could throw a wrench into the equation after his last screenplay for Savage Grace wasn’t so well-received earlier this year, but if all else fails, look out for David Bowie’s cameo as an investment tycoon—there’s one image you won’t see everyday.