From sasquatch to superheroes 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MARK ROGERS - bad boy Hellboy hits theatres this week.
  • Photo by mark rogers
  • bad boy Hellboy hits theatres this week.

The hot ticket this week is the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown on Friday night as part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (this year marks a truncated, "Quick & Dirty" version of the fest, but organizers are still ramming most of the important stuff into five days. Does that make it all easier on our livers than a 10-day fest? Or harder?)

Regardless, the 72hr is the biggest night of the year for local filmmakers, with hefty prize money on the line and bragging rights guaranteed. Since its inception in 2002, almost every notable Sea-to-Sky filmmaker has cut their teeth in this contest—and more often than not, comedy wins the day.

Who will take the crown this year (and will the host have to pull a blade on any stage crashers)? Time reveals all.

Time, in the evolutionary sense, plays a role at the Village 8 theatre this week too, with the opening of Missing Link. Created by Chris Butler and the genius stop-motion team at Laika (Coraline, Kubo and The Two Strings), this one is about a sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis) living in our neck of the woods who is discovered by a big-bravado explorer voiced by Hugh Jackman.

The twist is, rather than capturing the beast as a trophy, Jackman's Sir Lionel befriends it and kicks off an adventurous and comedic tale of friendship, family and acceptance as the duo quests to find more of the bigfoot's kind, even as rival explorers/monster hunters close in to spoil the fun.

Missing Link is narratively exciting and visually stunning. Laika uses a blend of (mostly) stop-motion and (some) CG animation, and the overall effect is so clean and astounding it can detract from the appreciation of the artistry behind the process, or as ex-Whistler artist Dave Barnes calls it, "The warmth of human error."

Regardless, Missing Link is an upper-tier animated feature that both adults and (even really young) kids can get into. And of course, sasquatch rule.

Also opening this week, Neil Marshall (The Descent) takes a shot at Hellboy, with David Harbour (Stranger Things) in the titular role. There were no pre-screeners for this one (bad sign) but the story seems based primarily on a classic storyline from Mike Mignolia's iconic Hellboy comic, one that includes a fairy-folk war apocalypse, Excalibur and the Blood Queen Nimue—played here by the ethereally beautiful Milla Jovovich (Dazed and Confused, Resident Evil).

Where the original Hellboy flicks benefitted from Guillermo del Toro's brilliant visual creativity, Marshall's reboot seems to be banking more on the inherent pure badassery of a lead character that is a demon summoned to Earth for total destruction but who instead sawed off his own horns to fight for good and humanity. I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt; one can never have too much Jovovich making out in a blood shower.

Speaking of comics, Shazam! opened last week and is already DC's most critically successful flick since the Chris Nolan Batman run. Essentially Big with superpowers, this one is pure childhood wish-fulfillment—a 14-year-old randomly meets a dying wizard and gets the ability to transform into a super hero.

It's every kid's dream, but as we know with great power comes...pissed off bad guys. Buckle up kid, superpowers take work. Director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle, Lights Out) doesn't quite nail the action scenes or tone, but Shazam! is still pretty good, clean, superhero fun. Especially for DC, which is still struggling to escape the dark and gloomy quagmire of the Zack Snyder era.

Over at Marvel, the whole galaxy seems to be talking about the upcoming Avengers: Endgame flick set to drop later this month. How can a movie pick up the pieces when its predecessor killed half the main characters?

If Marvel shits the bed here it will be remembered forever. Also, doesn't it seem like some of the most fun superhero flicks lately are the b-grade ones? For my money, Shazam, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Deadpool are a lot more fun than goody two shoes Captain America and his band of merry fools (Hulk is cool though). Excelsior!


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