Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hellboy and The Boy Who Lived

I recently watched the new trailer for Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. When I saw the first trailer, I was angry. Now, I'm just frustrated, bewildered, and sad. THIS is really what he turned down a chance to direct a Harry Potter film for?

If I take Harry Potter out of the equation for a minute, obviously I'm just upset with him because he proved, with Pan's Labyrinth, that he was capable of doing better and more significant work. As a follow-up, this looks pitiful. I'm sure Hellboy is perfectly fine for what it is, but this seems like such a step down for him.

Now, let me get back to Harry Potter. I know people will argue that Harry Potter is just as trivial as Hellboy II. Well, I totally disagree, to put it very mildly and as politely as I can. The Harry Potter books are some of the most beautiful, inspired, and inspiring works ever created. Period. They're brilliant! J.K. Rowling has single-handedly, in a digital age no less, motivated an entire generation to read, and other generations to read again. She's done more for books than anyone, and few have been responsible for as massive a pop culture phenomenon. Harry Potter is up there with The Beatles.

I think the films are marvelous. They could have been screwed up big time. Sure, some are better than others, but they all stay true to the integrity and spirit of the books. And the casting couldn't be better. They're really magical pieces of filmmaking, if you give them a chance. And how often do you see an 8-part film series? I'm not talking about James Bond and a bunch of individual entries that surround a character. I mean a cohesive sequence or structure in which each part is integral to the success of the whole. Every film is inextricably linked with, and dependent on, the others. So, an 8-part film series is absolutely unprecedented. It's pretty extraordinary.

Say what you want about Harry Potter, but the legacy of Harry Potter will endure forever. Hellboy II will be forgotten in months. How could Gullermo del Toro pass up an opportunity to be a part of that legacy? It's inconceivable to me. Why didn't Alfonso Cuaron persuade him? Guillermo del Toro could have reached so many more people with his art this way. The Harry Potter films all contain the individual stamps of the filmmakers. They basically would have given him carte blanche. He had a chance to make history. Instead, he made Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Sigh.

Hellboy II looks gorgeous, and the creatures in it are astounding and beyond fantastic. That's why I'm so sad. If he put that much effort and creativity into this crap, imagine what he could have done with Harry Potter. It's painfully disappointing. Hellboy II is visually stunning, mind-blowing really, and the style is so wonderfully interesting and trippy. I can see Pan's Labyrinth all over it. He's totally ripping himself off with Hellboy II, which is fine, I guess, but the film is so unworthy. What's the point? It's beautiful, yeah, but then the characters talk, and it's practically ruined right there. The plot is also ridiculously silly and stupid. What a waste of his enormous talent.

I would have LOVED to see what he could have done with Harry Potter. I think the result would have been spectacular. The Hellboy II trailer reveals the mind of a genius, to be sure, but why didn't he put THAT mind to use on Harry Potter? Why? Why Hellboy and not Harry Potter? Why, Guillermo, why? Harry Potter's beneath you, but Hellboy II isn't? Is that it? I really hope not.

Guillermo del Toro had a chance to try something new, to accept a challenge and really put his creativity to the test, to tackle a worthwhile project, to broaden his horizons, to grow and soar as an artist, to take a serious risk, and to bring his own type of magic to Harry Potter. He chose not to. I love you, Gullermo, but that just seems lazy and cowardly.


Sara said...

Perhaps Del Toro just isn't as connected to HP as he is to Hellboy? The subject of that sentence sounds ridiculous, haha...but still, it is quite an undertaking to helm a HP movie because the fans of the series are so ravenous (myself included) and if you aren't entirely connected to the material, the cinematic results are likely to be disasterous.

Personally, I wish they'd given Terry Gilliam the opportunity to direct the series. Both Ms. Rowling and Gilliam himself were gung-ho about the idea and, of course, the studios refused.

Lisa Draski said...

Yeah, I get what you're saying. I'm sure that's true, since he had already made Hellboy. "Perhaps del Toro" sounds like a name. :)

Yes, we are indeed ravenous, so it's understandable that it would be overwhelming. I just really, really, really wanted to see him give it a go. Instead of Yates directing the last four, which is fine, it'd be nice to change it up.

I didn't realize that Terry Gilliam was willing to do it. You're right, that would have been cool to see.

Steelsheen said...

Del Toro didnt turn down Deathly Hallows for Hellboy 2-- he was already smack in the middle of its production when he was approached for DH. however it was also at the same time that Del Toro was approached to helm The Hobbit. so really it was between Deathly Hallows and The Hobbit and the latter won out.

Order of the Phoenix isnt without its flaws, but i am so relieved that they got Yates to finish the last three films. it will finally give filmic consistency to the Harry Potter franchise which, with the exception of the first two films, never really had it. ironic, for a franchise this big to not have a uniformed visual and storytelling style. just compare that with Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and you'll see what i meant by filmic consistency.

Lisa Draski said...

Hi, steelsheen!

Thanks for the info. I guess I had forgotten about del Toro and The Hobbit. I still really would have liked to see what he could have done with Harry Potter, though.

I agree that Order of the Phoenix isn't flawless, but I think Yates did a wonderful job, much better than people give him credit for. I also seem to like Order of the Phoenix a lot more than most people.

I think Yates will continue to evolve creatively, and I think he'll surprise a lot of people.

I see what you mean about filmic consistency, and it's a good point. But the variety is what I love about the series. I really love the idea of different directors and interpretations and styles. I think it's kept it really fresh and constantly interesting, and it's following a progression with the story and characters.

There was consistency with Columbus, but to me, those are the most boring of the series. It's been thrilling to see what each new person brings to it. I think the spirit of the books is consistently there, and that's what matters. I like that the film series is unconventional in its approach. Star Wars was definitely consistent, but in my opinion, the last three suffered from too much consistency and an unwillingness to change.

Besides all that, I can't imagine any director wanting to do all 7, or now 8. It's too consuming. I don't know how Steven Kloves has done it as the screenwriter. Even he needed a break!

Since Yates has been confirmed, though, I'm pleased with the decision, and I'm eager to see what he does. I'm definitely with you on that. He needs the support of the fans, and he's got mine. I was just having a little fun with del Toro and speculating.

Thanks for stopping by and posting! I hope to see you again.