Tag Archives: Guillermo del Toro

The Devil’s Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro)

The Devil’s Backbone takes place at an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War (in Spain, obviously). The film follows Fernando Tielve as he arrives and has conflicts with the other boys, before everything gets worked out. For about half the film, one of the other boys, Íñigo Garcés, is the antagonist. But everything with the boys is basically a misunderstanding and, in the second half, the film introduces the real villain.

There’s also a ghost, some political unrest, unrequited love between the school doctor and the headmistress, lust, greed and an unexploded bomb. Director del Toro goes overboard with the symbolism; for much of the film, it works too. He tries to be way too tidy in the end, however, and it doesn’t work. He refocuses the story away from Tielve and Garcés and the other boys–greed and lust are the (literal) apple here–but the boys have nothing to do with them. They lose their story.

It’s too bad, but there’s still a lot of great work in the film. del Toro’s direction, Guillermo Navarro’s photography and Javier Navarrete’s music are all phenomenal. Luis de la Madrid’s editing hangs a little, but usually for symbolism’s sake, which might be del Toro’s fault.

Tielve and Garcés are both excellent. As the adults, Federico Luppi and Marisa Paredes are great. In the film’s most difficult role–an orphan grown-up and returned–Eduardo Noriega does okay, but better when it matters.

Backbone’s almost an excellent film. Very, very close.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Guillermo del Toro; written by del Toro, Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz; director of photography, Guillermo Navarro; edited by Luis de la Madrid; music by Javier Navarrete; production designer, César Macarrón; produced by Agustín Almodóvar and Bertha Navarro; released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Starring Fernando Tielve (Carlos), Íñigo Garcés (Jaime), Marisa Paredes (Carmen), Eduardo Noriega (Jacinto), Federico Luppi (Dr. Casares), Irene Visedo (Conchita) and Adrián Lamana (Gálvez).


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Pacific Rim (2013, Guillermo del Toro)

Guillermo del Toro’s dedication to his vision of Pacific Rim is absolute. He never wavers, he’s absolutely committed.

Unfortunately, it’s not the vision for a good movie. Rim suffers from endless problems–except maybe the special effects. The constant CG was all competently rendered. It’s so prevalent del Toro used it to solve even the slightest problem. As a result, there’s not a single imaginative moment from him. Sure, some of the visuals are awesome, but no more awesome than some production art would be.

The script is predictable and weak. del Toro and Travis Beacham write some truly awful dialogue for the actors and then del Toro turns around and can’t direct them. Ron Perlman’s bad because of the script; Charlie Hunnam is bad because of del Toro’s direction. Hunnam can’t hold his American accent, which is hilarious as Max Martini can hold his Australian one. del Toro doesn’t know how to use Hunnam as a lead so he fills out the cast with five or six others. But basically only five or six.

Apparently the special effects cost so much, they didn’t want more than ten speaking roles in the picture… even though there are always crowds whose cheering is obviously dubbed in.

Mediocre acting is the norm, except terrible performances from Robert Kazinsky and Clifton Collins Jr. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are awful too, but for them it’s definitely the script.

Bad music from Ramin Djawadi… very bad.

Rim is a shockingly lame motion picture. Shockingly.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Guillermo del Toro; screenplay by Travis Beacham and del Toro; director of photography, Guillermo Navarro; edited by Peter Amundson and John Gilroy; music by Ramin Djawadi; production designers, Andrew Neskoromny and Carol Spier; produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Mary Parent; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Diego Klattenhoff (Yancy Becket), Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Kikuchi Rinko (Mako Mori), Charlie Day (Dr. Newton Geiszler), Burn Gorman (Gottlieb), Max Martini (Herc Hansen), Robert Kazinsky (Chuck Hansen), Clifton Collins Jr. (Ops Tendo Choi) and Ron Perlman (Hannibal Chau).


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Geometria (1987, Guillermo del Toro), the director’s cut

About the only thing good about Geometria is Juan Carlos Muñez’s photography. It’s very stylized, very red and blue, but it’s competent throughout and there are a couple great shots. It’s clear Muñez and del Toro shot it in an apartment or house, but Muñez gives it real scale.

Too bad the rest of Geometria is lame.

del Toro gets a lousy lead performance from Fernando Garcia Marin, who plays a kid making a deal with a demon so he won’t have to take a geometry quiz. It’s unclear if we’re supposed to laugh at the kid or feel sorry for him.

Best (or worst), the whole thing is weak homage to The Exorcist. Or del Toro just didn’t have enough money for two sets of demon effects.

And del Toro doesn’t even get how to tell a joke with the finish.

Except the photography and effects, Geometria‘s dreadfully lame.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Guillermo del Toro; screenplay by del Toro, based on a story by Fredric Brown; director of photography, Juan Carlos Muñez; edited by Sigfrido Barjau and Peter Devaney; music by Christopher Drake; produced by del Toro, Muñez, Antonio Hernandez and Javier Antonio Soto.

Starring Fernando Garcia Marin (Boy), Guadalupe Del Toro (Mother) and Rodrigo Mora (Demon).


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Mimic (1997, Guillermo del Toro), the director's cut

Based on one of the edits, I’m assuming Mimic isn’t exactly a director’s cut (i.e. del Toro finished his cut, the Weinsteins took it and reedited it) as an approximation. He went back and did what he could to make it fit his intent. Maybe there are more examples—I haven’t seen the original cut—but the one I noticed was jarring.

Mimic’s not a bad film, but no one was really trying except the actors. I make that statement assuming Jeremy Northam was trying to be a thinking American action hero… but he just couldn’t do the accent.

The script takes a lot of short cuts. You’re supposed to care about Northam and wife Mira Sorvino because they’re having trouble having a baby.

Sorvino makes Mimic work—her early scenes with sidekick Alix Koromzay do wonders to establish the character.

Having the protagonists be married and in this thriller does show some ingenuity on del Toro’s part. It would work if Northam were good. And if del Toro didn’t have a little autistic kid in danger. del Toro does kill off a couple kids, which is a shock.

The cast is all strong—Giancarlo Giannini as the autistic kid’s guardian, Charles S. Dutton as a transit cop who’s stuck with Northam, Josh Brolin as Northam’s partner.

Oh, I forgot that ludicrous bit. The script has Northam and Brolin acting like movie detectives… only they’re CDC employees.

Great special effects. Terrible Marco Beltrami music. It evens out.

Mimic’s fine.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Guillermo del Toro; screenplay by Matthew Robbins and del Toro, based on a screen story by Robbins and del Toro and the short story by Donald A. Wollheim; director of photography, Dan Laustsen; edited by Peter Devaney Flanagan and Patrick Lussier; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Carol Spier; produced by Ole Bornedal, B.J. Rack and Bob Weinstein; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Mira Sorvino (Dr. Susan Tyler), Jeremy Northam (Dr. Peter Mann), Alexander Goodwin (Chuy), Giancarlo Giannini (Manny), Charles S. Dutton (Leonard), Josh Brolin (Josh), Alix Koromzay (Remy), F. Murray Abraham (Dr. Gates), James Costa (Ricky), Javon Barnwell (Davis), Norman Reedus (Jeremy) and Ho Pak-kwong (Preacher).


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