Hell Boy and its Big Let Down

#Film

Mon, Apr 19th, 2004 05:00 by Rolo ARTICLE

Hope is an often-tenuous thing. At the best of times it is a wonderful thing that can put the proverbial cherry on top of any event or situation. At the worst of times, Hope is a juicy promise of a better tomorrow that sticks with you while you're neck deep in trouble.

In this case, I had hoped this movie would have been a true underdog champ. Hope, like my car, were toast as soon as this movie was half done.

Hell Boy, starring Ron Perlman, and directed by some director dude named Del Toro. My hope died for this movie being a sleeper hit as soon as I realized this movie was simply lukewarm. It never simmered, over-boiled, or even flash fried. It just simply gave the same feeling of taking a bath in lukewarm water. You're so close to enjoyment, yet robbed by faulty plumbing.

The background story of this movie seemed such a great struggle. The director endured a six year struggle to fund this movie, battling the super duper Hollywood movie production giants to remain true to the original comic and at the same time secure Ron Perlman for the part of Hell Boy.

I cannot simply stress enough how this movie was simply not what it could have been. I myself am not a Hell Boy comic reader, so I was not giddy to see it. But the premise seemed fun enough to encourage seeing it. A good red demon fighting a nazi hoard to save the world. He has a big gun, and he seems to have some pretty cool friends with neat powers. In the end it seemed the plot of this movie was pretty passive with a few large holes in it.

What I also find is that the entire plot somewhat lazy and overdone. I haven't heard of a good old Third Reich enemy in a long while, not since the days of Indiana Jones. I had hoped to see more of them, but instead the good old WW2 Axis evil theme just seems to fall off the face of the earth after the first few moments of the movie. Instead we are stuck with "evil" and Rasputin, who is mysteriously alive on a WW2 era Scottish Island. I can hardly consider Rasputin a choice bad guy. He barely shows himself in the film and looks pretty gay with his "mecha-glove." It looks more like retro Nintendo Power Glove or an ancient relative of the Hitachi Magic Wand. He was simply too much of a cardboard cut-out.

To sum the plot up, Hell boy is a demon and he beats up monsters because he's good. Rasputin plays the big bad evil Russian magician who seems to be immortal. Hell Boy must stop him from releasing the end of the world brought on by the Seven Super-Size Calamari. Yay. To aid Hell boy, he has a cool looking fish guy who is the psychic extra-ordinaire named Abe Sapien, a pyrokinetic named Liz... oh, and some dude named Special Agent Myers. He really isn't special at all.

What I find most unappealing about the movie is that Hell Boy's friend Abe doesn't contribute much to the film, and should have really just been given the special power of blowing bubbles. Liz the pyrokinetic really seems to be Natural Gas girl with her ability to control blue flames. Plus she really only applies her powers effectively once. The worst addition of all is pasty white Agent Myers, who really is quite mundane and doesn't do anything cool, fun or say anything whitty. My wish is that he died a nice "Yeoman Johnson" death a la Star Trek.

I must say though that the one pillar of this film is the spotlight shy main actor, Ron Perlman. As Hell Boy, Perlman unequivocally delivered an acting piece that was as stalwart as a permanent Sharpie marker. When you have a Sharpie Marker, you know what its for, what it does, and that it does an excellent job. Perlman is truly the ideal "working class" actor who always delivers in the supporting role in movies. Perlman's claim to fame are based on his roles founded in heavy make-up and costumes. (He was in: Aliens 3, Beauty and the Beast, Enemy at the Gates) You could say he is faithful and reliable in his role and I think of no other person as the best choice to bring out the "come in an do my job, ho-hum" attitude of Hell Boy. Frankly I just wish Hell boy did more of that throughout the movie, and less focus on an overblown plot by the "evil" mastermind Rasputin and his Seven Gigantic Squid of the Apocalypse.

Upon reading a bit of the background, it seems that the actual comic background is much more tantalising than the movie. The characters are all pale in comparison to their comic counterparts. Hell Boy and his friends have a deeper origin and more history that validates them as excellent comic book characters. The plot would have been much more amusing if it had the Cyber Hitler from the comic book in it. So we could watch Hell Boy beat the snot out of Cyber Hitler with his own cybernetic leg. I myself am fascinated with the theme, story and nature of Hellboy. I just don't think that this movie had enough content to propel it to a sequel. I feel there is just not enough character development to make a solid impression on audiences to watch Hell Boy 2 or any other sequel. Much less float any post production merchandise or action figures.

See this movie if you're bored and on a cheap night. Otherwise you can get the same effect by sitting in a lukewarm bathtub.

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