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Hellboy’: Like a bat out of hell

Mark Bemenderfer | Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Cthulhu. Y’ha-nthlei. Yog-Sothoth. K’n-yan. If any of those names sound familiar, then “Hellboy”, directed and written by Guillermo del Toro, may be right up your alley. Steeped heavily in Lovecraftian lore, this is one of the better movies to come out in years partially based on the writings of the late author, H. P. Lovecraft. That doesn’t mean the average moviegoer won’t enjoy the movie, as they probably will. It’s saying that a person who knows of H. P. Lovecraft, and has been a fan of his previous works, will get a much larger kick out of the movie.For example, it’s a little hard for the average person to picture ultimate evil as a frozen giant squid in outer space. But to a Lovecraft fan, it’s a whole new story. “Hellboy” itself was a pretty good movie. While there were some logical holes in the story, as well as some poor editing, it was an enjoyable flick overall. One small complaint though – why does it seem that Nazi’s are always behind apocalypse plots? I know they are safe villains, as they are the least likely to offend anyone when they get killed, but a little more imagination could have been used, especially in a movie like this.And speaking of recycled villains, in “Hellboy” we are treated with Grigori Rasputin. Yes, he is the famed Roman mystic who has already been treated with dozens of films and literature. While it appears Toro is trying to give the movie some historical context, it could just as equally be likely that he is just going with some standard Hollywood villains.In the way of characters, Ron Perlman brings the title character to life, and the viewer never gets the feeling that they are watching a guy in a red demon suit. The other characters are just as nice, such as the intelligent fish man voiced by David Hyde Pierce.Fans of cool swordplay will also get a lot out of the movie, as one character in particular seems to excel at it. Kroenen, played by Ladislav Beran, is a sheer joy to watch. It’s not every day that people get to watch a masochistic sword swinging ninja nazi at work.One character seemed to detract from the film just a little though. Selma Blair, playing the character of Liz Sherman, gives a somewhat disappointing performance. Maybe I’m being a little too hard on her, considering she has to act professionally while talking to a giant merman. Many people saw the trailers for this movie, and probably considered it to be a lame League of Extraordinary Gentlemen knockoff. That’s not a good thing, especially when LXG was less than stellar. But those people would also be missing out on a pretty good movie if they simply wrote off “Hellboy.”While it is certainly not a head scratcher, or the latest Hollywood masterpiece, it’s an enjoyable little flick that will certainly hold more for fans of the comics, or action fans in general. Why not shake things up a little bit this Easter with watching “Hellboy”, although some will probably enjoy watching “The Passion” again more.