April 8, 2004

Hella Good

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OK, I admit it. Sometimes the best movies out there don’t make you think or ponder the role of the everyman in the present American consumer culture. Sometimes, the best movies are just plain fun to watch. It is in this latter category that we find Hellboy. The entire film is the vision of Mexican director/screenwriter Guillermo Del Torro, whose recent works have included Cronos, Mimic, and Blade II. Del Torro uses his affinity towards the gothic in Hellboy, which is based on the comic book series of the same name.

The general plot of the movie is pretty predictable. In an attempt to win World War II, the Nazis, who always provide great villains in these types of movies, team up with Rasputin, who in this case is just an added plus, to conjure the demons of hell to bring on the apocalypse (Oh no!). While the Allies stop the Nazis and Rasputin, one little devil does manage to get through. With the help of a Baby Ruth bar, Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) manages to raise this little minion called “Hellboy” (Ron Perlman) to fight for the good guys. Now in the present day, the Nazis and Rasputin are back, don’t ask why or how, and Hellboy and his partners must fight the forces of evil once again.

Fortunately, for all of our sakes, Hellboy preserves all of the fun and action of the comic book. Unlike other comic book movies like The Hulk, which try to become profound and emotional and, as a result, just plain stink, Hellboy is just a wild ride through action and adventure with Perlman’s big red devil, the perfect guide through the funhouse. Hellboy isn’t alone; at his aid is the Einstienian Professor Bruttenholm who is played perfectly by the Einsteinian actor Hurt. Also on the crime fighting team of mutants and misfits is fire-starting Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and swamp-thing Abe Sapien, who is voiced over by Frasier star, David Hyde Pierce.

While Hellboy is packed with great visual effects and many funny moments provided by Perlman, the storyline is severely lacking in common sense. Granted, some theatrical license must be leant to movies like this one, there are some points in Hellboy which lack any and all clarity. For example, how has the super secret Agency for Paranormal Research and Defense managed to go unnoticed, even though it’s in the middle of Newark, New Jersey? What is even worse are the big holes in the storyline. The good guys manage to destroy all of the disgusting minions of hell, and then in the next scene, they are tied up and at the mercy of dear old Rasputin. Did I miss something here? At the same time, Hellboy and company leave the director of the FBI (who for some reason is fighting the powers of Hades personally) in a maze of catacombs, but never go back and get him during the rest of the film.

With all of its shortcomings and clich