UK Critics Consensus: Hellboy Delights; Somers Town Shines

by | August 22, 2008 | Comments

This weekend’s UK cinema releases see Guillermo del Toro‘s Hellboy II entering the already crowded summer superhero fray, Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Dwayne Johnson play it for laughs in the big screen adaptation, of the, little known in the UK, spoof spy show Get Smart, and Shane Meadows return to our screens in the Eurostar funded – so naturally set near the new St. Pancras Station – Somers Town. What did the critics have to say?

Following on from the universally praised Pan’s Labyrinth (96% on the Tomatometer), and fresh from landing the directing gig on the highly anticipated prequel to the behemoth that is Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Guillermo del Toro brings us Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Ron Perlman returns as the big red devil, along with his team of mighty misfits, to take on Prince Nuada and his eponymous Golden Army. Del Toro’s imagination has been allowed to run wild and he has created a fantastical grown up summer blockbuster which is full of magic and wonder and has been lauded across the board by the UK critics. Full of magical creatures, slapstick comedy, and with a heart at its core, del Toro has translated all the fun of a comic onto celluloid and fans will be left waiting for the hopefully inevitable threequel.

Steve Carell is riding high in the US remake of the Office, but following the clunker of biblical that was Evan Almighty (23% on the Tomatometer), Carrell returns to the big screen in Get Smart. A big screen remake of a Mel Brooks spoof spy show has Carell as Maxwell Smart, an overeager analyst promoted to spy, in order to thwart a plot to take over the world by KAOS. Critics agree that Carell has charisma and provides some laughs, but that there aren’t enough funny moments for it to ever convince as a comedy, nor enought thrills to convince as an action movie. With so many good spy movies out there in Bond and Bourne, do we really need a spy spoof which comes across as a rejected Naked Gun script? The critics didn’t think so, with it rated Rotten at 52% on the Tomatometer.

This week also marks the return of one of the true leading lights of the British film industry, Shane Meadows. With his last effort, This Is England, riding high on 93% on the Tomatometer, can he repeat the success with Somers Town? Coming to the screen under whispers of selling out, having been funded by Eurostar as a film to promote the new St. Pancras train station, the piece silences the critics with its warm, funny and heartfelt portrayal of friendship between two young outcasts in the gritty urban landscape of Somers Town. Thomas Turgoose, who wowed the critics as pint-sized skinhead Shaun in This Is England, returns as Meadows new muse, to give another towering performance as Tomo, the disaffected youth who heads to London from Nottingham, but gets viciously mugged, and then befriends another outcast, Polish immigrant’s son, Marek. Critics accuse the film of being light on plot, and feeling like an extended short, with a running time clocking in at just 75 minutes, but the general consensus is that Meadows has produced a magical mini-masterpiece, even if the product placement has a tendency to jar in places.

Also out this week is art docu-flick Face Addict centering around the Warhol/New York art scene margins, which, at 30% on the Tomatometer, probably won’t get its 15 minutes of fame.

Quote of the Week
“Arty-farty, cheap and dreary, Edo Bertoglio’s post-mortem of New York’s Seventies creative in-crowd is exactly the sort of self-absorbed guff that makes people glad to be square.”
Elliot Noble, Sky Movies on Face Addict.

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