Saturday, we went to the grocery store and the movies. Everybody wanted to see "Hellboy" so we caught it at the Regal over in Dublin. It's a rather large theater, with twenty screens. You'd think that with that many movies drawing in that many customers, there would be a gigantic concession stand with every kind of snack known to man offered for sale. Forget it. The concession stand area is big, but the junk food selection is really pitiful. They don't even have an ATM in the lobby so that impulse buyers or those who forgot to get cash before the movie can still go. Who manages this place?
As usual, we got there early. Ugh. The theater plays some in-house "infotainment show" called "The Twenty." It's boring and awful, and it has commercials, just like the boob tube. Honestly, I really didn't pay my ticket price to watch television on a giant screen. Gah, that would be torture alone. Fortunately, this time I had some good company with me. I will have to consider the next time I visit this theater alone, whether or not it is worth it to arrive early if I am going to be subjected to television with bad commercials. I'd rather listen to canned music. Of course the optimum movie experience is always with company.
The previews looked really interesting. The first was for a movie called "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" This picture looks like one hell of a brilliant concept. Imagine that it is 1938 and you are at the theater watching one of those old serial-type rocket-opera science fiction shows. Now imagine that the movie makers have somehow acquired twenty-first century cinematography special effects. That is the setting for this movie. This is not Star Wars, I am talking about here. Star Wars took the old serial science fiction concept and totally updated it, keeping only the story-telling style. This is something spectacularly different. Imagine a new science-fiction movie, using state of the art computer graphics and special effects but the setting and style were done in the style current in the 1930's view of the future, right down to the fantastic soaring art-deco buildings, giant robots, costumes, and old fish-shaped and v-winged "rocket planes." Think Buck Rodgers without the cheesy wires on the spacecraft and the smoke coming out of the back. Awesome. I will not miss seeing this one on the big screen. Be sure to check out the trailer at the web site and be blown away.
The second preview was for a rather forgettable-looking comedy called "13 going on 30". It looks like a Freaky Friday without the switch, or better yet, a female rip off of Big. I don't know if I will be able to give this one a miss though, if my daughter Jackie is around when it is showing. She fell in love with the thing. Actually, it does look like it may possibly have some cute moments in it, but unfortunately, I worry that that is all that it has going for it.
The third preview was for a weird, vaguely Chevy-Chase-feeling, slapstick, battle of the sexes, 70's parody called "Anchorman." I dunno. This one looks like it's going to run out of gas in the first thirty minutes. All of these themes have been done to death, and I did not see anything that looked like a new angle on the subject in the trailer I saw.
The fourth preview was for Universal's "Van Helsing." My friend Will worked on this one, and he tells me that it brings back all of the old classic Universal B-movie monsters, like Dracula, and the Wolfman, etc. and updates them with a new story and modern movie techniques and technology. Will worked on the Frankenstein's Monster, who, he tells me, is the only non-CGI monster in the movie. This looks pretty interesting.
The fifth preview was for a weird twist on "Some Like It Hot" called "White Chicks." My friend Will worked on this one too. It was probably challenging as hell for him. The movie is about a pair of Black FBI agents who must go undercover as white women. Top off a weird premise with the twisted humor of the Wayans Brothers and I think this one might be interesting. Certainly, there were some funny moments in the trailer.
Hellboy is a really nifty movie. It's another take off on a comic book, so that starts it off with a strike against it already, because people are leery of what kind of story they're going to get out of a "graphic novel." There are many rotten ones for every reasonably good one. Nevertheless, this movie does manage to pack in some interesting ideas and turns a few interesting tricks. Believe me, "the cat thing" will disturb the cat-lovers in the audience for at least forty five minutes of this film. The romance is not bad. There is good chemistry between Ron Perlman and Selma Blair, the title role and his pyrokinetic girlfriend, Liz. It was surprising to find some depth in the romantic backstory when most of these comic book movies tend to have their romances boil down to angsty guy with super-powers and goth chick with super powers get together to commiserate about how horrible it is to have their respective super-powers. There was a lot of that going on in the movie, but the writers managed to parlay that into a semi-convincing love-triangle. Jeffery Tambor, true to typecasting plays a nebbishy middle management FBI official for whom the audience is subtly encouraged to find a grudging respect, just as the protagonist comes to do. The role is actually one of Tambor's better performances and seems to have stretched his depth a little. John Hurt turns in the best performance of the movie, but then, that isn't surprising. Frankly, it is possible that the movie stretched most of the casts' depths, which is really not saying a whole lot, but it's something. Shockingly enough, even the outrageous villains manage a little depth. As I said, for an action/adventure/super-hero movie, this one rates a cut above average. If you are a fan of such movies, you do not want to miss it!
The writers of "Hellboy" have told an excellent tale built around the theme of alienation. Almost every character in the movie suffers some kind of alienation or another. Hellboy is a demonic creature who while raised as a human being is separated from them, most particularly from the woman he loves by his nature. Liz is alienated from others by uncontrollable pyrokinesis. The fish-man, Abe Sapien is alienated by his dependence upon a liquid environment. The novice agent John Meyers is alienated from the "heavy hitters" by his very normalcy and his youthful inexperience. Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm is alienated from his friends by the secret of a terminal disease. Tambor's FBI official is alienated by his irascible personality and obnoxious mode of interaction with people. The villains are also alienated and their alienation expresses itself in hatred of life and existence itself. It is a well crafted story which manages to incorporate the theme so thoroughly into the personas of all of the major characters. The resolution of the tale also relies heavily upon the ability for the protagonists to overcome their various alienations and find connection and common ground with one another and acceptance. In the end, the movie answers the question it raises, what is it that makes a man human, with the answer that it is his ability to choose and transcend his limitations and reach out and circumvent his own alienation. I found the movie and excellent and entertaining use for two hours of my time. This is definitely one for the video library.