Friday, April 02, 2004

Straight to Hell, boy. 

It's pretty good. Not great, but pretty good.

Local critic says it's better than the two X-Men movie combined, which I guess can be true based on your opinion of that franchise. I think they're not even close, but there you have it.

A lot of the reviews I've been reading lately, from comicdom's finest, have been saying the same thing: Hellboy has a lot of glitz, but is dragged down by a lack of plot.

To me, this is like complaining that the acting in a Star Wars movie is touch wooden. Newsflash: WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF STAR WARS. Hellboy (the comic) is, at its heart, a monster movie crossed with a pulp action movie crossed with H.P. Lovecraft. Tell me, have any of those three sources ever been renowned for their ability to weave complex stories and intricate characterizations? No? Then why the fuck are you surprised the movie plays out much the same way?

(And yeah, I've read a lot of Lovecraft. Do not, FOR AN INSTANT, dare to tell me that all of his stories are not all essentially the same. You do not necessarily have to be complicated to be intriguing.)

It's a bug hunt. So was Aliens, and that esteemed piece of cinema was one of the finest movies made in the last 30 years.

Anyway. The reason people see a Guillermo Del Toro is because Del Toro never half-asses his movie. No, his heart and passion are right up there on the fucking screen, and every set, every costume, every make-up job, every show-stopping new monstrous creation comes right from his imagination. The man never paints by numbers, and for that alone, he must be admired. We do not have enough directors left who have such a desire to try something new in each of their movies.

Ron Perlman is good for this role. Selma Blair is servicable. Doug Jones, as Abe Sapien, is the scene-stealer both in dialogue delivery and in make-up. He's convincing. You buy him instantly, without hesitation, because he's so incredibly lifelike. Yes, he speaks in gaspy exclamations -- "Behind this door.. ancient evil.. awaits!" But dammit, what do you expect from a movie like this?

Ace has the score on Rasputin, though. Karl Roden utterly fails to bring a presence and menace to a character that absolutely requires both. And that right there may be the ultimate failing of this movie: no real villainous presence beyond the (admittedly impressive) hellhounds and Nazi blade-wielding automaton.

Should you see it in the theatre? If you're already anticipating it, then yeah, more power to you. You'll have a good time. Will you feel cheated if you spend like $10 for it? Maybe a little. See it matinee-style, if you can.

And that, faithful readers, is my I'm-very-tired minimalist review of Hellboy.

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