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Okay, did a little movie marathon last week Thursday with Sandy and we saw The Hulk and Hellboy II back-to-back. We both saw the previous prequels of these two films as well when they both came out a few years back and enjoyed both of them--even though the first Hulk was slammed by just about everyone--but REALLY enjoyed the first Hellboy! The first Hellboy was fantastic, capturing everything that made the comic book a hit perfectly. Hellboy was quirky but also noble and courageous. The supporting cast was equally brilliant with Abe Sapien and the Jeffrey Tambor character stealing every scene they were in.

The story had intrigue, action, humor and wonderful visual effects. An A+ movie and we couldn't wait for the sequel.

The sequel stunk.

And I don't know if we entered an alternate reality version when we walked through the theater doors last Thursday, or not, because all the reviewers gave this movie glowing reviews! Maybe we saw a different film?! Rene Rodriguez from Entertainment Weekly is usually dead on and I agree with her reviews 90% of the time...she gave it an A or an A- can't remember which but I was stunned!

Now I don't want to bash this film as I truly love Hellboy and Mike Mignola and Guillermo Del Toro but the film was just too goofy! Two minutes in I knew I was going to be disappointed. They went for camp and visuals in this sequel and seemingly only that. Focusing on what they thought made the first film so great...the quirky bits of humor that gave the movie such charm. But in focusing on that they abandoned the elements that also made the film AND the characters so great! Hellboy was turned into an adolescent goofball with a serious case of attention defecit disorder in HII. Gone was his nobility, his heart, his charm. Instead he only annoyed. They started the film off with him as a young, HELLboy. And although this start was very, very goofy--very over-the-top!-- it seemed intentional and I accepted it. I thought it was a cheesey, campy set-up for the terror that was sure to follow...wrong. The camp continued, never stopped. Then they followed with a knock-down drag-out fight between the now bickering couple in love, Hellboy and Liz Sherman. This was uncomfortable and didn't work. The first one ended with them finally realizing how much they meant to one another and now they can't stand each other? At least she can't stand him. And who can blame her, really, since they turned him into such an unlikable character here? ugh. And remeber how Hellboy saved Liz in the first film and how brilliant and beautiful that was? Ruined here. And, AND, they repeat this scene later in HII with Liz now having a similar scene with Hellboy now at death's door. Sheesh! (Liz also repeats her line from the first film about, "You should be running now." When she fires up at one point. Sheesh again.) They ruined Abe turning him into a stumbling bumbling lovesick puppy; they ruined Jeffrey Tambor's character turning him into a sniveling kiss ass taking away his pompous charm that made his character work so well in the first film; they ruined Liz Sherman turning her into a boring crank and they brought in the great character Johann Krauss from the comics and turned him into a character with really bad punchlines and a really bad german accent.

And all the creatures they rolled out? Too much focus on that here and at times it seemed as if they were doing it just for the sake of doing it. The entire Troll Market seemed very contrived and completely superfluous. And they just happened to stumble upon the missing princess there?! Come on guys, I know you can write better than that.

But the topper of the whole thing was when Hellboy saves the entire city from a building-sized monstrosity, also saving a baby along the way (and holding the baby through the entire fight BTW. Again, come on, guys!), and after saving said city and baby the entire crowd suddenly turns on the formerly beloved Hellboy calling him a menace and hurling objects at him as the woman whose baby he saved screams at him in terror grabbing the baby away as Hellboy stands there stunned. And then, THEN, Liz rushes to his side and actually says, "Can't you see he's trying to help you?! Can't you see?!!!" or something to that effect. ugh. Haven't we seen this scene before soooo many times? It's trite and it's implausable. Painful and I was surprised that two geniuses like Mignola and Del Toro would write this. I don't get it.

There were also a lot of convenient story devices which didn't play like them just happening upon a troll on a cart who just happened to know someone nearby who just happened to be able to heal Hellboy's terminal injury. How fortuitous for them. And why/how was Abe able to all-of-a-sudden be able to waltz around without his breathing device he needed and pointed out needing earlier in the film? And their hijacking the plane from BPRD headquarters without clearance even though there are armed guards all over the place? Right.

And I tell you, the only character in this film that I actually LIKED and admired/respected was the bad guy! He had nobility, purpose and a sad vulnerability...HEY! Waitaminute! Just like Hellboy had in the first film! Hmmm.....

If you just need visuals to make your movie going experience a good one this is the film for you as it's just one long Star Wars cantina scene. But if you're expecting the same quality, balanced movie that was the first Hellboy you'll be disappointed like we were.

Contrarily! we weren't expecting much from The Hulk and ended up enjoying it very much. Was it an A movie? No, but it was definitely a solid B. Good story, great acting, great action! Just what one would expect from a Hulk movie, right? Had the sadness we'd expect as well. A couple nice nods to Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee and also Bill Bixby and the great nod to the old tv line, "Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" I won't spill on how they changed this line but it was great and it was hilarious. They also threw in a nod to Jim Wilson and Jack McGee and a few other little things only the true Hulk afficianado will pick up. Making the Hulk talk was also great! Missed that in the first film and it was always my biggest gripe in the tv series when I was a wee lad.

The Hulk is a fun film people. Go see it. Hellboy II? Save your money.

And don't even get me started on Spider-Man 3 which we just saw on DVD a couple weeks back! Holy God was this a bad movie. We actually felt awkward while watching it and embarrassed for Toby McGuire. This was almost, ALMOST as bad as Batman and Robin folks. Almost.



p.s. Comic-Con International this week! I'll be camped in artists alley so stop on by! We can debate the film reviews if you'd like. I'm right, though, just so you know.

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