"Find hungry samurai" -Gisaku


I had to get out of the house Sunday night, because guests were coming and I knew it would be bad. So, when Marcellus suggested a movie, I was down.

We made a pact that as long as we didn’t tell anyone; we would see New York Minute. I confess that I have never seen an Olson Twins’ movie, but now that they were almost 18 (which is probably still too young for me but at least I can put them in the theoretical argument) it would be okay to see the film. The audience was made up of mostly young girls (and their mothers), and a few others who were my age, which leads me to believe there are many would-be movie reviewers out there, or that Canada is made up of perverts.

But you should have seen the outfits these girls were barely wearing…awwww, I can’t do it any more. I made up the last paragraph. While perhaps there is small part of me that wants to see New York Minute (if only for the sheer perversity), I would never do that to poor Marcellus. We ended up seeing Hellboy (if you’ll go back and look at the title, you’ll see I left a subtle clue).

But before the movie there were previews! I love previews. Occasionally they are so bad that I get depressed and writing scathing editorials (Hyperion X 998) but I love them anyway. (Actually, I went back and reread that column just now. I was wrong about several of those movies, so maybe partly it was just me.)

There were four previews here. Spider-Man 2 was slick, but something tells me this won’t be as good as the first one, which I thought wasn’t as good as most people thought to begin with. I Robot is a Sci-Fi film (based on an Asimov story) starring Will Smith. Smith and Science Fiction is a mixed bag for me (loved ID4, didn’t care for MIB and loathed Wild Wild West), but this preview was well done. Add to that the director did Dark City and The Crow, and I’m chomping.

The other two trailers were black-oriented. One is called White Chicks, which stars two of the 87 Wayans Brothers, who go under cover as rich white girls. Doubt I’ll see that. The other was Soul Plane, a movie about a Black airline that accidentally gets some white people aboard (including Tom Arnold). I think Tom Arnold can be funny (True Lies, 9 Months), and not funny (everything else). However, the movie has Snoop Dogg as the captain, and one scene had the plane bouncing up and down like you see the cars do in rap videos. That alone makes me want to see this. Black comedians seem to be the only people left willing to do really edgy racial comedy, so I’m hopeful. (And did I mention Snoop is the pilot?)

Okay: Hellboy.

I have not been this pleasantly surprised since Pirates of the Caribbean. This movie kicked major ass. In my review of Van Helsing, I said a blockbuster had to do seven things:

“Wow” opening: no problem here. Hellboy starts off cheesy and cool (just what you want), and introduces us to the villains (more on them in a minute) and the main character himself. Loved it.

A simple plot: Hellboy’s plot could potentially be pretty complicated, but it’s not. Whenever they got close bogging down, they just moved on. Works for me. I promise you I’m not giving anything away, but if you’re anal, skip to the next paragraph now: during WWII, Nazis are trying to open a portal into space to summon the 7 Gods of Chaos (who apparently don’t have voice mail). Helping them out is Rasputin, who is even harder to kill than we thought, and some assassin dude who looks like Snake Eyes in Michael Jackson’s wardrobe (circa 1984). The American and British soldiers manage to stop all of this, but before the portal closes a little red thing pops out, with a giant right hand made of stone, horns, a tail, and as cute as the dickens. Cut to sixty years later and the little one is Hellboy, who regularly saves mankind. Rasputin, that assassin and one of the Germans (a hot chick who is the same age, but who cares?) are back to unleash hell on earth, and Hellboy has to save the planet, along with some sidekicks. That’s pretty much it.

Great special effects: they don’t go overboard here, but what they do is done very well. I liked the subtlety.

Lots of Humor: here is where the movie excels. Marcellus and I cracked up loudly at least 15 times. All the catch lines work for me, and the situations make things even funnier. KBV2 may be the best film I’ve seen this year, but this is the funniest.

A high T&A&V factor: Hellboy is not big on the sex, but that’s okay because they more than make up for it with a really sweet love story. I defy you not to get choked up. There’s tons of violence, so no worries there, but it’s all “comic-booky” and not scary.

Signature Moments: these abound as well. There are a couple great images, including a possible apocalyptic future, but most of them are quieter; based on the great set-ups of the characters.

Great Characters: the villains are fairly lame, but they’re not the focus here. I think most of their fun derives out of the fact that Nazis are still trying to take over the world in 2004 (say what you want about Nazis (like you’re perfect), but they do make great bad-guys). Rasputin is great too, but this sort of depends on you knowing the joke. (Rasputin was the “Mad Monk” who advised the last Czar, and was killed not once, not twice, but thrice! For more on his life, go here.) The assassin doesn’t say anything, but he’s great with knives, and that’s always fun to watch.

The heroes are what make this. Hellboy is played by Ron Perlman, and it’s the part he was born to do. He’s a friggin natural. His “dad” (the guy who first finds him back in ’44) is John Hurt, and he’s wonderful too. There’s a fishy sidekick, and Liz; a firestarter played Selma Blair (she’s even better here than in Cruel Intentions). The love story between her and Hellboy is what makes this movie go from good to great.

I want to say much more, but I don’t want to give the impression that this is some deep philosophical opus. It’s not. It’s just a great time at the movies. I’d been told it was just an X-Men rip-off (which I always thought the comic was), but I think I honestly prefer this to either X-Men movie. There’s only about 5 minutes where Hellboy gets bogged down, and if they are leading to something bigger in sequels, I can even forgive them for that.

All in all I had a great time, and I would go see this again. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but I can tell you you’re a moron if you don’t.

Suspension of Disbelief Scale: 10 (out of 10). Did you even need to ask?

Genre Grade: Superhero blockbuster; A-. I wish it actually was a little longer, but I loved what I saw.

Pantheon Percentile: 80. This isn’t the greatest movie ever made, but the humor will make a classic we’re still watching 10 years from now.

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