Most comic-book superheroes are too busy wrestling with their angst to ever kick back and have some fun. That's what makes Hellboy—a red-hued creature from down below who fights paranormal foes for the government—such a refreshing change of pace. Imagine Superman throwing down a six-pack after a squabble with Lois, or Spider-Man greeting his latest opponent by grouchily bellowing, "Your Royal Assness!" But while a little attitude goes a long way, it still doesn't keep Hellboy II
from avoiding the fate of its 2004 predecessor: a visual marvel felled by a mediocre story.
This time, the cigar-chomping Hellboy (Perlman, cantankerous as ever) and his human-torch girlfriend Liz (Blair) are pursuing Prince Nuada (Goss, made up to resemble a zombified Nelson brother), who has risen from the underworld and is intent on ruling the planet. On the heels of writer-director Guillermo del Toro's exquisite Pan's Labyrinth
, Hellboy II
feels like leftovers. Despite a few standout moments—particularly Hellboy's drunken rendition of Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You"—the film is unlikely to beguile those who aren't already fans of the comic.
Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, Josh Hutcherson
Trapped inside a cave during an Icelandic expedition, a scientist (Fraser), his teenage nephew (Hutcherson) and their guide (Briem) discover that Jules Verne's 1864 novel was actually fact, not fiction. But their trip to Earth's core—drably rendered by low-rent special effects—is a huge letdown. The three stars are game, but first-time director Eric Brevig never imparts a sense of awe or danger (even when they plummet thousands of miles or are chased by an ornery T. rex). Kids, however, should dig the 3-D version of the film, playing in select theaters, which will keep them busy dodging everything from flying piranha to—yuck!—dino drool.
The Meet Dave
actress, 34, plays Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W
WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH TO PLAYING LAURA BUSH? I think you go for subtlety over the obvious. You try to be as real as possible, not do an impression of her—it's not a Saturday Night Live
skit, you know?
HOW WAS WORKING WITH EDDIE MURPHY IN MEET DAVE
? It was thrilling—he was one of my adolescent idols. I love him to death.
SO WERE YOU STARSTRUCK? No, not by actors. I'm much more starstruck by, say, Barack Obama.
The Iceland native and Tudors
star, 26, makes her U.S. film debut as a mountain guide in Journey to the Center of the Earth
LIKE YOUR CHARACTER, YOU SPEAK ICELANDIC. All the time. People accuse me of making it up. They're like, "You are really from Minnesota!" It comes in handy when you need to maintain a ladylike behavior. It's best to speak in Icelandic not to divulge any bad words.
ARE YOU A THRILL SEEKER LIKE IN THE FILM? I insisted on doing all the stunts, so I'm a bit of a daredevil. It's the pure Viking blood running through my veins that makes me this way. I'm a very dangerous woman!
Best known for starring in Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh
, the actor, 21, is all grown up and playing a pot dealer in The Wackness
YOU HAD YOUR FIRST LOVE SCENE IN THIS FILM. HOW WAS IT? Terrifying. We all have body complexes, but not all of us have to see ourselves on a 90-ft. screen.
HOW DID YOU PREP? It was more about knowing that once I dropped the robe, the world wasn't going to come down with it. But I was probably in the best shape of my life. [Plus], I didn't eat lunch that day 'cause I didn't want to be bloated, and I did, like, 100 push-ups beforehand.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? I open up a bottle of cabernet, scoop out some Brie. No, I'm totally kidding. Basketball with my boys. Last night we went to a dope speakeasy. My crew rolls in New York, so whenever I'm there I get [re]acquainted with them.
HAVE YOU BEEN GETTING MORE FEMALE ATTENTION WITH THE ROLE? If I do I'm too naïve to notice. I was at a party, and I said to a girl, "Do you have a busy day tomorrow?" and she said, "Why? Do you want to take me out?" I said I was just making small talk. I'm always getting in my own way.
Yes, it's been 25 years since the Griswolds piled into their Family Truckster and drove 2,408 miles to Walley World. The fashions may be totally '80s, but the movie is still a trip
1 THE GRISWOLDS ARE EVERY FAMILY
From the backseat sibling squabbles to Mom and Dad's cluelessly off-key singing, Vacation captures the universal realities of a family road trip. We've all been there.
2 CHEVY CHASE ROCKS
Whether he's romancing his wife or strapping dead Aunt Edna to the roof, Chase (as patriarch Clark) masterfully blends idiocy and heart.
3 I LOVE THE '80S
After growing up with this 1983 movie, I still get a little misty over side ponytails, pink Izods and a young Anthony Michael Hall.
In the early, barren moviegoing months of 2008, the smart, sly thriller THE BANK JOB
was one of the only reasons to visit the multiplex. Now out on DVD and Blu-ray, the film follows Jason Statham and a ragged group of Londoners in 1971 as they pull off an audacious bank heist—but the real fun comes watching them navigate its chaotic aftermath. After glossy heist films like the Ocean's trilogy, The Bank Job
is a welcome throwback to down-and-dirty '70s filmmaking. Bonus material includes a featurette on the real-life Baker Street robbery that inspired the film. (R)
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Jeffrey Tambor