HELLBOY

Confused Christian Allegory

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: April 02, 2004

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Tambor

Genre: Supernatural Science Fiction
Adventure/Film Noir

Audience: Teenagers and adults

Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action
violence and frightening
images

Runtime: 116 minutes

Address Comments To:

Amy Pascal, Chairman
Columbia Pictures
Michael Lynton
Chairman and CEO
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/

Content:

(Pa, CC, OO, Ab, B, ACAC, LL, VV, A, D, M) Mixed pagan worldview with strong Christian and strong occult elements, including the casting of spells and occult beliefs (often associated with the villains), and some strong but confused Christian elements such as an instance of the saving power of Christianity and a strong father figure is a Catholic and passes along a Crucifix, as well as an anti-Christian elements include an evil parody of a priest who is an occultist and a villain, and a rosary is thrown at the ground, and some moral elements with talk against communism and fascism (National Socialism); eight light obscenities and six profanities; men are melted, crushed, shot (without blood), cut with blades, impaled (with blood), thrown through windows, eaten by monsters, and struck on head with rock, man slaps woman, monsters fight each other, and monsters are burned, fall to death, and explode; no sex or nudity; characters smoke cigars and drink beer; and, government lies to citizens, and character steals beer.

GENRE: Supernatural Science Fiction Adventure/Film Noir

Summary:

HELLBOY is an adaptation of the comic book about a being from another dimension that crosses over to the human side. It contains moderate violence, a little foul language, a mixed worldview, and strong Christian elements muddled and confused by occult motifs.

Review:

HELLBOY is an adaptation of the comic book series about a being from another dimension that crosses over to the human side. A professor working with the United States government raises the creature and becomes a father figure to him. He calls it “Hellboy” because of its red skin and horns. Hellboy spends his life fighting the monsters that sneak onto earth, but when evil Russians find a way to summon the monsters' powers, he must choose between saving earth or delighting in his natural strength and power.

The worldview of this story is a mixed pagan one, with strong Christian and strong occult elements suggesting possible allegorical meanings. The movie begins in World War II as a mad Russian is constructing a machine to bridge the dimensions and allow the powerful, evil monsters to come into earth with the humans. He uses spells and black magic to bring the monsters alive, because he wants to use their strength to build Nazi forces and defeat the Allies. Professor Bruttenholm destroys that machine and saves the Allies, but not before Hellboy passes into earth – eventually, he will become mankind's only defense against the evil monsters.

Sixty years later, the Russian scientist who built the machine is resurrected and continues his mission. Hellboy seems to have met his match when one fierce monster multiplies each time it is killed. This makes it impossible to get rid of the spider-like creature. This life cycle is an inversion of natural human experience, in which life springs from other life. In the monster's case, life springs from dead creatures. Also, a subsidiary plot is introduced in which Hellboy shows his human side through love for Liz, a woman with supernatural powers. It is now clear to the audience that Hellboy has both a human and monster side.

There are several elements that suggest a spiritual or Christian meaning to the movie, but they are often ambiguous or confusing. A mention is made of Hitler possessing the spear that pierced Christ's side. The professor, a strong father figure, says he is Catholic and believes in “a version of hell.” He also passes along a Crucifix to Hellboy. Holy water is used to ward off monsters, and a rosary reminds one character that he should make a moral decision. All of these scenes contain Christian images or verbiage, but they are bereft of any complete spiritual meaning. Christianity is cast in HELLBOY more as functioning superstition rather than as a vital, living religion. It is not apparent from anything in the movie that God exists or loves man.

Furthermore, parallels are drawn between the Hellboy character and Christ, but they are negated by his demonic nature. In two scenes, Hellboy is shown as a demon, ensconced in flames and with long, curled horns, so he cannot be redemptive like Jesus. Hellboy has the power to choose between evil and good, and in the name of his love for Liz and the Professor, he chooses good. Trails that point toward a Christian worldview prove to be dead ends. Religious iconography and language seem to be present to make the movie seem more complicated, or maybe the filmmakers were unsure of their message.

HELLBOY the movie is violent but not brutally so. Many men are cut or impaled, but only a little blood is shown. The dying men mostly just fall over. There is some humor in the dialogue, but most of it is sarcastic and juvenile. The plot is lackluster and twists more times than the screenwriter apparently could keep up with while creating it. In the end, it does not make much sense and is not especially compelling for a broad audience. Add these problems to the strong but strange, confused conception of Christianity and redemption, and the audience is left with a very muddled, too-long movie.

In Brief:

HELLBOY is an adaptation of the comic book about a being from another dimension that crosses over to the human side. A professor raises the creature and becomes a father to him. He calls it “Hellboy” because of its red skin and horns. Hellboy spends his life fighting the monsters that sneak onto earth, but when evil Russians find a way to summon the monsters' powers, he must choose between saving earth or delighting in his natural strength and power.

The worldview of this story is a mixed pagan one, with strong Christian and occult elements suggesting possible allegorical meanings. HELLBOY is violent but not brutally. Many men are cut or impaled, but only a little blood is shown. The dying men mostly just fall over. There is some humor in the dialogue, but most of it is sarcastic and juvenile. The plot is lackluster and twists more times than the screenwriter could follow. In the end, it does not make much sense and is not especially compelling for a broad audience. Add these problems to the strong, but strange and confused, conception of Christianity and redemption, and what's left is a muddled, too-long movie.