I saw Hellboy, the first one, on tape at about 3 am, the night before we were due to run Mike Young's Colonel Sebastian T. Rawhide's Circus of the Spectacular at Columbia. We had rented the movie so that we'd have something to detox us after all the larp work.
This was a good choice. It was surreal enough to fit my mood, simple enough that I didn't have to think to be able to follow it, but smart enough to be more than just mindnumbing mind candy. The larp went well too.
I've forgotten a lot about Hellboy. I hadn't thought I had, but when I looked at IMDB's quotes section and Wikipedia's summary, it was clear that I only remembered the basics. So, I'm going to have to see it again.
I knew I wanted to see Hellboy 2 as soon as I saw the trailer. I read rob_donoghue's entry on the movie, so I went in knowing one of the basic plot twists.That was all right; anyone who didn't go in knowing that twist could still see it coming several miles away.
Folks have said that the denouement could have gone a couple of ways -- either Hellboy or the princess could have challenged the prince. I don't agree. Hellboy is told the story at the beginning of the movie, and he's the one who raises the question of challenging the wearer of the crown. He goes to bed with his toy gun, clearly dreaming about that sort of thing. And this is the kind of movie that works not by undercutting viewer expectations, but by fulfilling them.
Nor did it bother me that Hellboy waited before challenging the prince. Our Heroes had to fight the army to establish exactly how hopeless this was. As Buffy fans know, there are some "unstoppable menaces" from long ago that were only unstoppable because there was no technology available capable of stopping them. In theory, there might have been a "That was then. This is now" moment in Hellboy 2.
And,. for a moment, it looks as if there might be. After all, what can even armies of mere humans hope to accomplish compared to our supernatural quartet? We see exactly how good Our Heroes are. And we see exactly why it doesn't matter -- it's not that the Golden Army's members aren't stoppable. It's that they are self-repairing.
This does raise the question of whether they can repair themselves from being blown into dust by really good explosives, but I'll let that pass, especially as I only thought of it now. The point is, the army regenerates, so its relatively small numbers (7 x 70 = 490) are misleading.
One question that mneme and jlighton thought of was, "Why doesn't the princess just stab herself in the arm or the hand?" But, as both agreed, that isn't the idiom of the film. Hellboy 2 is a fairy tale, not a story where the characters think like gamers or programmers or, well, us. But also, as the prince makes clear, he cannot stop what he is doing. He will keep trying to destroy humanity until he dies, and he is smart enough and nasty enough that he is a real threat even without a limb or three.
I had no problem with the doomed romance. Abe and the princess clearly have a telepathic rapport, so external appearances don't matter. And Abe is totally on the mark when he says that Liz would have made his deal with the prince if it had been Hellboy at stake. We see her doing this, saying pointblank that she'll risk the destruction of the world rather than let her lover die. And we know that Hellboy would do the same for her. Sure, Abe's naive. Sure, LIz may be thinking, "Well, with Hellboy back, we can see about stopping this world destruction." But, emotionally speaking, in principal, everyone except the princess is willing to destroy the world for what they love best.
This includes the prince, obviously. It includes Liz, Hellboy, and Abe. It also includes Johann, as far as I can tell from his mile-a-minute I'm-not-such-a-bad-guy team solidarity speech. I actually have more problems with Johann after that speech than before it.
Before that speech, I know more or less where he fits in, and he works beautifully. Afterwards, something doesn't quite click with him and the rest of the team. Maybe it's because I'm not very clear on the hierarchy of who officially ranks whom, and who gets to call which shots when.
I'm also, in retrospect, a bit confused about what the prince is supposed to have lied to Abe about. Are we supposed to understand that he made some kind of agreement with Abe off camera?If not, all he said was that if Abe wanted Hellboy to live and wanted to see the princess again, he'd bring the final piece of the crown. Well, Hellboy's doing fine, and Abe's seens the princess.
I loved the singing scene. It went on longer than anyone else would have allowed it, and it totally worked, and it had no right to work. It's the kind of humor that's also played straight, in that Hellboy's getting drunk does have consequences: he loses the fight with the prince. But, this isn't idiot plotting. Hellboy has no reason to believe that getting drunk in the inner sanctum of his employers is going to lead to those consequences.
The actors playing the prince and princess have said that there is in incest thing between the two characters. I don't that's necessary, but sure, I can see it.
The actor who played the prince said that he did not think that the prince was a villain. I have to disagree. The prince is not just misunderstood. He wants to destroy all of humanity, and he has absolutely no interest in giving anyone any kind of chance of repenting. He sends his goon to kill guards at the auction house even before he demands the crown.
Oh, he looks great. And the training sequence with the train going through in the background is wonderful. It's fine that he's a complete jackass.
Or, as I said in batyatoon's blog:
I mean, "Oh, you are about to kill the last forest god and deprive the world of wonder, woe woe!"
Okay, dude? He's killing in self defense and defense of others. He's killing the last totally awesome forest god that YOU decided to sic on him like that god was your pet dog. And why? Out of pique that he killed your last bodyguard, the one you also treated like a pet dog. He and the humans you despise? Totally more respectful of the forest god than you.
But, then, we knew he was a jackass.
And another thing occurs to me. The prince says that his and his sister's deaths deprive the world of wonder. I'm just not feeling that. Oh, I'm sure the prince is -- it's a fine line for him. But, there's still a ton of wonder every square mile of the Hellboy world, from Our Heroes to the goblin market to the freaking Angel of Death!
And, let us not forget that there are other elves out there. Unless I am supposed to believe that they are all killed off camera, the crowd of elves we see at the king's court sat this entire battle out. Oh yes, there's still wonder in the world.