DVDs In Brief
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has said in about a billion interviews that Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) isn't really his vision of his character, it's the original vision of writer-director Guillermo del Toro. He also grants that it's mostly a pretty glorious vision. Part supernatural actioner, part straight-out visual feast, Hellboy II is slight and predictable, yet thoroughly entertaining, in large part because of the same complicated magical-creature design that went into del Toro's Oscar-winner Pan's Labyrinth, and the exhilarating setpieces that went into his first Hellboy film
Critics and fans alike were underwhelmed by the prequel-sequel Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros.), the big-screen teaser for Cartoon Network's small-screen Clone Wars series, which launched in October. It isn't terrible, just inessential—yet another fill-in story continuing to sell a series that was technically resolved back in 1983 with Return Of The Jedi. Clone Wars looks like a videogame cutscene and feels like a series of pointless distractions. It occasionally steps incredibly awry—for instance, with the purple transvestite Hutt with a Carol Channing-like voice—but it's mostly a passable, churned-out time-waster for the few hardcore fans who really want still more Anakin Skywalker
In The Perfect Holiday (Sony), Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard appear as the good-angel/bad-angel duo of "Mrs. Christmas" and "Bah Humbug," and they're somehow not the worst part of the movie. More nauseating is the central relationship between a mall Santa (Morris Chestnut) and a single mother (Gabrielle Union) whose rap-mogul ex-husband has left her with a lot of money. For some reason, he tries to impress her by pretending to be a successful pen salesman
Japanese horror maestro Takashi Miike has never paid undue respect to the boundaries between genres, so it's fitting that he named his frenetic take on the spaghetti Western after a dish that involves throwing disparate elements in a pot and boiling off the excess. Sukiyaki Western Django (First Look) lifts plot elements from A Fistful Of Dollars (by way of Yojimbo, of course) and tosses them into a frenetic Baz Luhrmann blender. The result is typically nutty, if not altogether satisfying.