Critics Consensus

Hellboy Fails to Catch Fire

Plus, Missing Link is another Laika triumph, Little is slight, and Fosse/Verdon season 1 is Certified Fresh.

by | April 11, 2019 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a snarky superhero (Hellboy, starring David Harbour and Milla Jovovich), a personable primate (Missing Link, featuring the voices of Zach Galifianakis and Hugh Jackman), the opposite of Big (Little, starring Issa Rae and Regina Hall), and a coed romance (After, starring Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin). What are the critics saying?

Hellboy (2019) 18%

Back in 2004, Guillermo del Toro had arguably his first true mainstream success with an adaptation of a Mike Mignola comic series about a half-demon superhero with a dark sense of humor; that movie was Certified Fresh and went on to spawn an even better-reviewed sequel. Fifteen years later, we get a reboot of the character, with Stranger Things‘ David Harbour taking over for Ron Perlman in the title role, and the reviews have been less than kind. Neil Marshall, the director behind celebrated fan-favorite horror flick The Descent, steps behind the camera here, recounting Hellboy’s origins and setting him against a centuries-old sorceress who just wants to make demon babies with him and rule the world. Unfortunately, critics say Hellboy certainly earns its R rating, but not necessarily in the right ways, mistaking F-bombs and mindless gore for humor and imagination. It’s an unfortunate reimagining of a normally fun character that strands him in a messy, poorly constructed story, then drowns him in blood and severed limbs and hopes the audience won’t notice.

Missing Link (2019) 88%

Animation studio Laika has put together an impressive string of acclaimed stop-motion projects, beginning with 2009’s Coraline and including, most recently, 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings. So far, their latest film looks like another triumph. Zach Galifianakis provides the voice of a sasquatch-like creature living in the Pacific Northwest who meets an inquisitive adventurer (Hugh Jackman) and asks him to help him locate a rumored city of his Yeti cousins in the Himalayas. Along the way, they pick up a feisty ex-girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) of the adventurer and visit exotic locales en route to Asia. Critics say Missing Link benefits from exquisitely crafted sets and a pleasant, easygoing vibe that, for a change, doesn’t rely on life-or-death stakes and chooses instead to focus on the budding friendship at its center. It’s an agreeably understated family film that looks beautiful and should inspire a lot of smiles.

Little (2019) 46%

Remember that Tom Hanks movie from 1988 about a 12-year-old boy who makes a wish and turns into an adult overnight? That movie was Big, so it makes a lot of sense that a similar movie whose plot is basically the same thing in reverse would be called Little. Regina Hall plays a ruthless, verbally abusive CEO who crosses the wrong tween and, thanks to a magic curse, wakes up one day to discover she’s reverted back to her 12-year-old self (played by Marsai Martin). Insecure‘s Issa Rae co-stars as the put-upon assistant who’s not only tasked with figuring out a solution to the predicament, but also with shepherding her de-aged boss through middle school again. Critics are split on Little, which feels a bit safer and lighter on laughs than many would have liked, but which also features some outstanding performances and a few worthy lessons. It may strike some as familiar, but it may be light and breezy enough win over some fans.

After (2019) 18%

Hollywood is constantly on the hunt for the next literary property they can turn into a franchise, and this week’s After is the latest example. Based on a best-selling novel that began as a series of posts on the internet publishing platform Wattpad, the film follows a young woman (Josephine Langford) who enters college, falls for a rebellious classmate, and begins to question her relationship with her high school sweetheart. It’s the basic template for any young adult-focused romance, in other words, but since it wasn’t widely screened for critics, we can’t really tell you what they think about the movie. Time to guess that Tomatometer!

What’s New on TV

Fosse/Verdon: Miniseries (2019) 81%

Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams give viewers plenty of razzle and dazzle in Fosse/Verdon — a straightforward miniseries that is hampered by rote biographical tropes, but still shimmies with the requisite glitz, grit, and all that jazz audiences crave.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Penguin Highway (2019) , an animated film from Japan about a brilliant 4th-grader trying to figure out why his town is suddenly visited b penguins, is at 100%.
  • Wild Nights with Emily (2019) , a comedic drama about Emily Dickinson’s romance with her sister-in-law and her efforts to get her works recognized, is at 93%.
  • Sauvage / Wild (2019) , a drama about a male prostitute who struggles to choose between a stable romance and the freedom of his sex work, is at 90%.
  • Satan & Adam (2019) , a documentary about the unlikely musical partnership between harmonica player Adam Gussow and one-man band Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, is at 89%.
  • Long Day's Journey Into Night (Di qiu zui hou de ye wan) (2019) , Chinese director Gan Bi‘s experimental, dream-like drama about a man who returns to his home town and reckons with his past, is at 88%.
  • Her Smell (2019) , starring Elisabeth Moss in a drama about a former punk rock icon who tries to put her life together after her demons catch up with her, is Certified Fresh at 85%.
  • Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2019) , featuring Dave Bautista and Michelle Yeoh in this spinoff of the Ip Man martial arts film series, is at 83%.
  • Dogman (2019) , about a dog groomer who is pushed to his breaking point and exacts revenge on a local criminal, is at 78%.
  • Stockholm (2019) , starring Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace in a based-on-true-events drama about a 1973 bank robbery and hostage situation, is at 76%.
  • A Dark Place (Steel Country) (2019) , about a small-town garbage man who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to a missing young boy, is at 75%.
  • Teen Spirit (2019) , starring Elle Fanning and Rebecca Hall in a drama about girl from nowhere who enters a singing competition in hopes of winning and making it out of her town, is at 72%.
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2019) , starring Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce in Terry Gilliam‘s 25-years-in-the-making adventure about a director who reunites with an actor who believes he is truly Don Quixote, is at 61%.
  • Mary Magdalene (2019) , starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix in a dramatic retelling of the biblical figure’s life, is at 42%.
  • Girls of the Sun (Les filles du soleil) (2019) , a drama about an all-female battalion of Kurdish soldiers trying to recapture a town held by ISIS, is at 34%.

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