CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

End of Lent 2004 - "Hellboy" & "Scooby Doo 2:Monster's Unleashed

Easter Sunday concludes the Lenten Season. It will be a Lent to remember for cinema historians as "The Passion of the Christ" grossed over 330 million dollars in box office revenue. Despite preconceived notions before Mel Gibson's movie was released, Hollywood executives have found an untapped market for new box office revenue, religious Americans. Given their motivation for box office gold, Hollywood money changers will focus on the people they have long ignored. Expect more films to be released during the season of Lent with a religious theme. In the meantime, this Lenten season will conclude with "Hellboy" and "Scooby Doo 2 Monster's Unleashed.""

"Hellboy" opens on October 9, 1944 in Scotland. As his Reich crumbles, Hitler’s interest in parapsychology deepens. Hitler's agents recruit Gigori Rasputin to unlock a portal to hell. Thanks to a fast thinking Professor (John Hurt) and the American military, Rasputin's plans go awry and Hitler is foiled again. However, some red skinned horned demon baby has crossed the hellish portal to reality land. The kindly professor raises the Hellboy (Ron Perlman) as his own son.

The film flash forwards to the modern day and the professor has created the Bureau of Paranormal Research in Newark, New Jersey. The Bureau of Paranormal Research warehouses mythological artifacts like the Holy Grail. Besides Hellboy, the bureau is also haven to Abe, a hypersensitive aqua fish man (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) who profiles crimes against the good people of earth. Hellboy also has a relationship with Liz (Selma Blair), a patient in a psychiatric institution. Jeffrey Tambor portrays a public relations representative for the paranormal talk shows.

Despite the over kill of action scenes filmed in the frenzied dark and another tired plot involving the end of the world, "Hellboy" works as Saturday matinee entertainment. In the late 1980's television show "Beauty and the Best'" Perlman revealed the sensitive poetic nature of the underground beast. As Hellboy, Perlman relies on deadpan humor and ejects funny one-liners as his character battles hounds from hell. In particular, Perlman and Tambor work well together with moments of understated humor.

"Scooby Doo 2:Monsters Unleashed" continues the further misadventures of Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Geller), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby Doo the dog. While attending a celebration in their honor, some villain unleashes the monsters from crimes that Mystery Inc. had solved in the past. Feeling humiliated, the three heroes decide to solve their latest mystery while Shaggy and Scooby decide to eat food and stumble into scary situations.

This dog of a sequel is not a bad movie. Screenwriter James Gunn has written just enough double ententres to hold the attention of the adult ticket buyers, while children will get their fix of slapstick. There is a sweet nature to this movie that concludes with a dance number and 2003 American Idol Champion Rueben singing "Shining Star." There is also an odorous moment when Scooby Doo defeats a flame-throwing ghost with a gaseous bodily function.

On "The Tonight Show" Friday night, Jay Leno cracked a joke about a movie marquee featuring "The Passion of the Christ" and "Hellboy" and how it would make an interesting double feature. Actually both movies have more in common than what their titles would suggest. Both leading men must assert their humanity over demonic situations and persevere for the good of mankind. For ticket buyers looking for pure escapist entertainment, then *Scooby Doo 2 : Monsters Unleashed" could feed that need.
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