Hellboy
[Movie Review]

I watched Hellboy with this preconception that it was probably going to be bad. I mean, the title, and the name of the main character, was pretty bad already. "Hellboy"? I haven't read the comics, but it sounds like the name of a comedic character who tries to be scary but is frequently the victim of his own clumsiness, perhaps tripping on his own cape, much to the amusement of his peers. But from the trailer, it looks like this movie wanted to take itself seriously. During the opening sequence, when the soldiers first find Hellboy and exclaim "It's a boy!", it felt like they were just trying too hard to justify the name.

The stories has something to do with nazis using the occult, a sect of which is still active today. Hellboy is an agent for a branch of the FBI specifically designed to defend against "paranormal" attacks. The story feels like there's a lot of loose ends, and deus ex machina are applied liberally through the plot. Hellboy ponders with a psychic fish-slash-C3P0 hybrid and a pyrokinetic girl about the treatment of "freaks" on earth, implying that there might be others like them, but we never find out if the three truly are unique, or if, like in the X-Men universe, mutants are actually quite common. At the beginning of the film, it's quite clearly stated that when the "ressurection-monster" is killed, two more are born, and indeed, this is what happens through most of the film. But during the climax, when perhaps a dozen of these monsters have now been spawned into existence thanks to Hellboy's constant slaying, this time, when they are killed, they stay dead. When Hellboy's partner, John, is chained up, and Hellboy is forced to open the gates to hell, John waits until the last minute to slip out of his handcuffs, kill the guard, and save Hellboy. Why didn't he just do this from the start, and save Hellboy from the torment he was put through as he opened the gates? And, here's a spoiler: When Hellboy's girlfriend dies, he just breathes her back to life. Very unsatisfying, plotwise.

The graphics, on the other hand, were generally well done, though when live actor Hellboy and the the computer-generated Hellboy were visibly different shades of red. The fight scenes have a nice DragonBall feel to them (minus the projectiles and the flying), with lots of impact craters from when the characters are thrown. However, the fights don't feel as dramatic as they might have, because it seems that for all intents and purpose, Hellboy is completely invulnerable to high grade explosives, getting run over by trains, fire, electricity, samurai-sharp blades, and so on. In fact, the only time in which Hellboy is actually in danger of being physically defeated is by some sort of biochemical attack near the beginning of the movie, a strategy which his foe never uses again. This might have worked if the movie focused on emotional or psychological conflict, but really all of Hellboy's obstacles could be solved by pounding his fists into them.

Music was not noticeable, except when it was overdone. There was a theme featuring stringed instruments that came up whenever we were supposed to feel some sense of sentimentality for Hellboy. But again, as it's always completely obvious that Hellboy will win every trial thrown at him in this beat-em-up plot, the music just made me roll my eyes. The worst offender was the scene in which Hellboy tells his girlfriend he would have cross over from life to death to bring her back, obviously an empty promise, given that he's completely invulnerable!

I can't give this movie anymore than a 5.5 out of 10.

 
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