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hellboyandlizpicic.jpgI was looking forward to last Friday’s “Hellboy” sequel for a number of reasons:
1. Guillermo del Toro directing (I’m a sucker for fantasy flicks and I don’t know a single person who didn’t enjoy “Pan’s Labyrinth”);
2. More Abe Sapien screen time;
3. Further development of a comic book hero that I had much to learn about.
The RIO (return on investment) was good with the first “Hellboy,” converting me instantly to a fan. I even own the DVD and its gotten a great deal of use over the last several months. However, “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” didn’t deliver nearly as well and as the movie went on, I started to wonder if I had purchased a seat for “Pan’s Labyrinth” starring Hellboy–’cause it certainly felt that way.


Hellboy (played by Ron Perlman) is a huge, red, cigar-smoking demon who was brought to this world by the Nazis during WW II. Before the Nazis can use him for evil, Hellboy is whisked away by Professor Bruttenholm and is raised as a “normal” boy brought up in the Christian faith (the rosary around his wrist is the only indicator of his religious beliefs, a plotline sadly left unexplored). Though you’d never guess he was “normal” since his employer is the U.S. funded B.P.R.D., (Bureau for Paranormal Research, headquartered in the great state of New Jersey).
He’s passionate and sincere (he has an unwavering dedication to his girlfriend, Liz, played by Selma Blair, who sets herself ablaze at the slightest upset that sends her into emotional overdrive, and is a true animal lover–his apartment is covered with cats and he rescues kittens from being dinner for a local ne’er-do-well.
There are many lessons we can learn from this superhero and certainly the most obvious is to not judge a person by the exterior–Hellboy has horns (grinded down of course) to appear as human as one possibly can while sporting hooves and a pointy tail. He may be rough around the edges, but his heart in affixed to his sleeve; crooning the night away with Abe Sapien as he laments finding love for the first time and the frustration in not being able to express those feelings.
The gist of the film is the age-old story of good versus evil and the fight to protect humans against an uprise that would destroy the world and them with it. The moral is to be a good person; don’t take the earth for granted by building millions of shopping malls and polluting it. But the film’s delivery fell short by a mile and while del Toro’s signature fantasy/sci-fi elements were present, as were the ghoulish creatures and puppets that could have just as easily come from Jim Henson’s Workshop, the story was like a stray cat trying to find its way home, unsure of which road to take.
One thing I noticed about Selma Blair’s character is that she wore a very prominent cross pendant around her neck. In a movie titled “Hellboy” I’d think there would be a reason why the main character’s love interest was displaying an image so clearly identifiable with Christianity and explore the religious symbolism, but no, this pendant could have just as easily been a stone or her name.
My other big gripe is that it was awfully hard to buy the sets, which came across like $2 back-lots in Los Angeles rather than a fantasy realm created by such fantastic creatures and del Torro.
So, instead of shelling out cash to see “Hellboy 2” at the box office, I recommend Netflixing “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the first “Hellboy” and enjoy them as the two separate movies God (and the director should have) intended.
–written by Hillary Deutsch

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