Alphabetical movie – Hellboy & Hellboy II
As a geek, I admit I’ve been excited by the number of super hero movies that have been produced in the last decade. One can argue that the proliferation of computer generated effects is not always a good thing but films like The Dark Knight, Captain America and Hellboy would probably have been much harder to make without the aid of CGI.
Also as a geek, I recognize my tendency to like such films simply because they exist. Yeah, The Green Lantern is pretty awful. But it’s The Green Fucking Lantern man! I knew the movie was going to be awful and I went anyway because I wanted to believe everyone else was wrong.
I watch the Hellboy films with the eye of someone who wanted better than what ended up on screen. They aren’t bad films but they lack the grittiness and melancholy that exemplify the Hellboy comics as well as director Guillermo del Toro’s best films. One needs only watch films like The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth to understand why del Toro was the right director for Hellboy.
As I re-watched both films, though, I felt that they were too antiseptic for Hellboy. Things were too clean. You didn’t get the feeling that horrible things lurked behind every corner and Hellboy was the guy who kept them at bay. The movies were too focused on Hellboy’s desire to be accepted by “normal” people.
Both films lack a compelling villain as well. Rasputin was a good villain in the comic but in Hellboy he is given precious little time on screen. He’s evil because he acts evil and not because we’ve seen enough of him to view him as a threat.
The problem with the villain of Hellboy II is that he’s right. Oh sure, he’s ruthless and we are supposed to side with humanity because we are humans. When you listen to his arguments, however, you can’t help but ask yourself why you should be pulling for Hellboy to beat him.
The effects are what I find most problematic. It is hard to use CGI to make something look dirty. Ancient hiding places of mystical armies don’t look like they are covered in dust. Tentacled monsters look clean and shiny.
The artwork of the Hellboy comics makes the world look grimy. Hellboy is fighting evil forces that have been around for a long time and they look it. He is a noir super-hero and when you shine too much light on him, it looks wrong.
My geekiness, though, looks beyond the obvious problems with the films and rationalizes that two imperfect Hellboy movies are better than zero perfect Hellboy movies. It is the same mentality that allows a lot of geeks to be happy about the Transformers films because all they wanted was giant robots fighting on screen and there they are – giant robots fighting on screen.
In general, I’m a little more discerning than that. Still – they put Hellboy on screen and I watched it. Then I bought the movies. I don’t think they are perfect but I figure if I keep watching and supporting the imperfect super-hero films, I’ll keep getting super-hero films.
Which means every now and again, I’ll get a Captain America instead of a Green Lantern.