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Dan Heller's Movie Review of Hellboy

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Hellboy (1)
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Movies based on comic books are a genre all their own, and they are becoming more alike these days, as it gets increasingly more difficult to squeeze through the ever-narrowing channel of creative diversity necessary to get the green light from movie studios. Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" is no exception. While it's not a bad movie, it does seem to have lost the more interesting (that is, "darker") aspects of original themes that typically engender this genre. The net result is a cornucopia of wow-inspiring special effects that do more to serve the masses than to tell the more dramatic story that the creator likely intended.

Hellboy (2)
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The hero here is played by Ron Perlman, a buff evil-spirit crime fighter who's midway between adolescence and adulthood, the theme that's characteristic of the genre as a whole. The best part of the film is the beginning, where we learn how Hellboy came into being and what his mission on Earth turns out to be. Back in World War II, the evil madman Grigori Rasputin devises a machine with the help of the Nazis to reach into the paranormal and awaken the devil in order to perpetrate evil on Earth. Allied forces, led by the paranormal scientist, Professor Broom, played by John Hurt, who's been following Rasputin's work, disrupt the experiment in process, but too late to prevent "something" from coming through: a little tiny baby devil, and a few other bad things yet to be discovered. The Nazis are defeated, leaving the young devil child to Broom, who goes on to found the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Their mission: to fight evil with the help of Hellboy and other super-human freaks of nature.

Hellboy and Agent
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The beginning is the most engaging part of the movie, and is a solid foundation for a great story to boot. Yet, the standard movie "formula" kicks in, diluting it down to a fusion of other films ranging from Ghostbusters to X-Men, with a little humor sprinkled in. A young FBI agent is hand-picked, for no real reason we're told, to be the heir apparent to the now-aging Professor Broom. He acts as the personal assistant to Hellboy, but the relationship takes a distant back seat to the growing attention to the evil special effects that dominate the screen at almost every turn.

Nazi Robot
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As is always the case with freakish superheroes who mirror their comic book creators, they are the loner, rebellious teenagers, emotionally and physically coming of age, all while trying to focus on their responsibilities in life. For a superhero fighting evil and saving the world, that's a big job. That underlying tone is what gives us empathy for the hero and engages us in the subplots of the film. Yes, Hellboy does have these qualities too, but this aspect isn't drawn out much, and there are no subplots to speak of, leaving the entire story more about killing the Helldogs. (Oh yeah, that's what his mission is.)

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To be thorough, the movie still has its enjoyable qualities, the personas are true to character, the plot holds your interest and the special effects are certainly noteworthy. Still, the parts add up to so much more than the whole that this imbalance makes you stop caring. For those who aren't concerned about such things, this is the movie for you. And if the teenagers in the theater were a sampling of that, I would say the movie accomplished exactly what it intended.

You can listen to an audio review of this film here.

You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167190/

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