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Guillermo Del Toro

Cabinet of Curiosities – Guillermo del Toro (series 2022)

A Netflix series by Guillermo del Toro! Well, he is the creator, but not the director. Too bad. Also, just as the two series that I just reviewed, “Cabinet of Curiosities” is not really a series, more of a collection of short films. So again, you have eight very different short films by different directors. The episodes are usually based on a short story and have a horror theme.

Del Toro did gather some interesting directors though. The first episode is directed by Guillermo Navarre with whom Del Toro often cooperates for his own films. Then we have Vincenzo Natali, known for “Cube”, “Cypher“, “Splice” and other films. David Prior is new to me. Next up is Ana Lily Amirpour of “Bad Batch“. Then we have Keith Thomas. After that Catherine Hardwicke of “Thirteen“. The most interesting episode is made by Panos Cosmatos of films such as “Cobra“, but who made something more akin to his caleidoscopic “Beyond The Black Rainbow“. The more dramatic closing episode is for Jennifer Kent.

A few of the episodes are based on Lovecraft stories, which says something about the type of horror that is presented. More of a Victorian mystery horror than the slasher type of horror. Some episodes are humorous, others more typical horror. It would have been nice if Del Toro had directed an episode himself. He did write the story for the last one.

Crimson Peak – Guillermo del Toro (2015)

This is not Del Toro’s best. In fact, it is not a very good film in general. Del Toro made a way too Hollywood Victorian ghost house horror film with a very unsurprising story and yawn inspiring special effects.

The American Edith falls in love with the English Thomas who takes her to his gigantic mansion where he lives with his sister. Edith already saw ghosts and of course Thomas’ house is haunted, so Edith tries to get away.

It is not that the film is extremely boring or badly made, but it is but a Hollywood horror production with a very thin Del Toro varnish in fantasy atmosphere.

Pacific Rim * Guillermo del Toro (2013)

A film of Guillermo del Toto with Ron Perlman, that has got to be something, right? Perlman indeed is great, but his character is in the film rather short. Of Del Toro I can only conclude that this is not his best film. By far…
It is not like “Pacific Rim” is a terrible movie, but here we obviously have a massive production in which a good director aims for the big, American audience. “Pacific Rim” is a scifi spectacle that might have been better without the big bucks.
A century ahead larger than life aliens are taking over the world. They come from the ocean where ‘our side’ of a wormhole is located, which is called “the breech”. In order to defend itself, mankind developped larger than life robots, operated by human beings. Of course these machines are human-formed, quite like the machines that are used in “The Matrix” to defend Zion. Del Toro came up with a highly unlikely way of operating that initially only seems to add some sort of “Inception”-like element to the film, but lateron it looks like he needed this element to explain another twist in the story, but it still makes the way of operating quite silly. The story is as predictable as a drive to work, but fortunately Del Toro managed to sneak in some elements of his own visually and message-wise.
The film is not boring or bad, but might have come from any Hollywood blockbuster director. Now I get a bit of a “Dune” feeling…

Mimic * Guillermo del Toro (1997)

This old Del Toro was still on my wishlist. It is an alright film. It starts as a pompous Del Toro ‘fantasy’. New York is plagued by an insect-transmitted disease and some young doctor has a cure. After a few years the cure proves to be the bigger problem and the subways of NYC are plagued by a new enemy. A few people get down into the old tunnels to fight this new enemy.
The props, etc. are nice as we are used to from Del Toro. The story is critical towards certain tendencies in our society, which is also an element that we find with Del Toro more often. In total “Mimic” may be a bit too much of an Hollywood thriller, but fortunately it is from a good director.

El Espinazo Del Diablo * Guillermo del Toro (2001)

Del Toro’s second full-length plays against the background of the Spanish civil war that turns up in his later films more often. Carlos ends up in a remote orphanage for boys, somewhere in a Spanish desert. Dr. Casares tries to help and educate the boys, do his own investigations and he helps the rebels in the civil war. There is the uncanny presence in the orphanage of a bomb that did not explode and a ghost. Carlos sets out to investigate. “The Devil’s Backbone” does not have the elaborate stages and fantasy creatures that Del Toro made his name with. Nor is there is there the fantasy of some of his films. It does contain great camera work and imaginary. The film is nice, but not particularly interesting.

Cronos * Guillermo del Toro (1993)

The first full-length film of Guillermo del Toro has all the Del Toro elements but the Franko line in the story. “Cronos” has elaborate characters and camera work, a slightly surrealistic atmosphere, fantasy and some horror elements and a nice story. The story is somewhat of a variation on one of the most common horror themes. An antiquarian accidentally finds a device of an alchemist of a few centuries earlier. Soon he finds out that there is somebody else that wants it badly and who sends out his servant (a great part of Ron Perlman) to get it. As Jesus finds out what the device does, he is not keen on handing it over and a nice cat-and-mouse game develops that is well portrayed by Del Toro. A very nice film. I have to see some other Del Toros that I missed.

Hellboy II: the golden army * Guillermo del Toro * 2008

The trailers we got before Batman included one that at first sight looked like a preview of The Mummy 26. Quite soon “Red” was shown and then a whole range of Del Toro creatures looking as amazing as those in El Laberinto Del Fauno, so I realised that this was a trailer of a sequel to Hellboy. I have no idea why the first Hellboy, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Hellboy II are so popular/hyped, since this is quite unusual for good films. Del Toro doesn’t make the easiest movies either with his (semi-)political stories and scenes (especially in El Laberinto), but of course the superhero-movies did well this summer and Hellboy is a magnificent example of the genre, mixed with over-the-top fantasy and humour and magnificent costumes, stages and special-effects. Inspite of the hype, only a few weeks after the premiere, it is already hard to see this film on the big screen, so we went at the impossible time of 17.00 (or 5 pm for American readers).
Hellboy II is quite like the first one. It has great humour, fantastic scenes, superb creatures (more so than in the first Hellboy on this part), but also a bit too cheesy drama. Ups and downs, with more ups than downs, so definately a good watch. The trailer suggested that this is really a film for the big screen, but in the end, I don’t think you need to see it in the cinema. The scenes in the troll market and that creature in the cave look amazing on the big screen, but overall it is not as overwhelming as El Laberinto.
Story-wise the film comes close after the first. Red and Liz have their first arguments and the group is almost the same as in the first Hellboy. A great new addition comes in the form of Johann Krauss.
Conclusion: Hellboy II as good as I, not really better (except for the weird creatures), but definately not worse.

El Laberinto Del Fauno * Guillermo Del Toro * 2006

The highly aclaimed Spanish film of the director of “Hellboy” and a whole series of films that I have not yet seen. It seems that most (if not all) of Del Toro’s film have a ‘political’ undertone in which the nazis represent the bad guys and the ‘reds’ the good side, the same goes for this film. “El Laberinto” is a strange film. There are actually two films in one and in both cases a war between good and evil. There is the ‘real world’ in which a group of nazi-like people try to free the country of ‘reds’ and there is the fantasy world in which a little girl has to undertake a few tests in order to regain her throne. “El Laberinto” goes from fairyish fantasy for little children to dark fantasy-horror in the fantasy part to very explictly violent parts in the ‘real world’. The film is definately not for little children, not even for people with a weak stomach! The fantasy part shows a spiritual quest, the other a more political one. The dreamlike scenes are indeed awsome. Magnificent costumes, great stages and weird characters. I don’t really understand the ‘real world’ part, but I guess the director really wanted to have a political twist to the film. “El Laberinto Del Fauno”, I also fail to see the international title “Pan’s Labyrinth”. The faun may look a bit like Pan (but a faun is supposed to have horns and goat hoofs), but he introduces himself as “a faun”. Pan is by far no faun and the director agrees that the two cannot be equated. A silly mistake of the distributors I suppose.
In any case, the film is nice, the fantasy parts are wonderfull, but I prefer “Hellboy” as ‘total concept’.

Hellboy * Guillermo del Toro * 2004

For some reason I thought that the title referred to some Japanese action film, but nothing is less true. Now with the new film of Del Toro in the cinemas, attention is drawn to his older work. I saw a trailer of the new “El Laberinto del Fauno” (strangely translated as “Pan’s Labyrinth” for the international release), first thought that it was some kind of fantasy for children, but when I later read the reviews, it seems that it is actually an impressive fantasy for adults. The same can be said about “Hellboy”. If I had to tag the film, it would be something like: “a (political) sci-fi fantasy comedy”. A what? “Political” is between brackets. The Nazis are dragged it, but I don’t think that the film as a whole has much of a message. “Sci-fi” because of the laboratory, etc. “Fantasy” is obvious and “comedy” because the film has a wonderfull sense of humour and more than just a random joke here and there. The story then. The Nazis open a gate to another world and this in order to get forces here for the destruction of the world. A little red ape falls in the hands of a (good) scientist who later has some secret monster division of the FBI, monsters fighting monsters. There is a nice thick layer of religion and occultism in the film (but not really ‘deep going’), great costumes and stages and a simple but effective story with good scenes and acting. “Hellboy” is unlike almost any other film and in this regard refreshing; maybe not a brilliant top-film, but definately very enjoyable.