It is with some strange feelings that I run this post. I just got back from seeing Hellboy 2, and I found it to be one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. Hard to imagine I'd be recommending seeing a movie with such name, but there you go.
As a superhero movie, I thought that Hellboy 2 was better than either Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk. In the overall view of Hellboy 2 as a movie, it's mostly B grade material. While Robert Downy Jr. and Edward Norton might be up for Oscars in their respective superhero displays, it's hard to imagine Ron Perlman getting such an honor.
So why then, if Iron Man and Incredible Hulk are technically better movies overall, do I like Hellboy 2 and place it above either of Marvel's entries? The reason is found mostly in the presentation. I am not a fan of ultra-realistic video games. When I play a game, I want to know that I'm playing a game. I want something that is completely out of the world of physical possibilities to occur. I want to go to a world that I've never seen. In the same way, when I see a movie, I want to see a new world. I want to go someplace else.
Iron Man and Incredible Hulk were excellent movies that blurred the lines of reality. It is very easy to imagine Robert Downey Jr. hopping into a Ferrari, taking off to his mansion, then flying back just a short while later in his suit. For much of the Hulks outing, there was a sense that the movie was taking place in our reality, in our present.
When it came to Hellboy 2 though, there was always a sense that the world they were in, was not our world. Magical and mystical events occurred, that could never be physically possible, and there was no explanation given for the events. Hellboy 2 was obviously fiction.
Then there is the question of the weird spirituality of the Hellboy series. Hellboy tends to mix the practices of Catholicism and old world myths and fairy tails. In the case of Hellboy 2, the movie heavily built upon European beliefs that forests were bad and contained evil creatures. Well, at least one heavily Christian series has done the same thing. Look up an author named C.S. Lewis, and his series of books about Narnia. Where as C.S. Lewis though crafted his works to present an overarching parable and story, it's hard to see such depth, if any exists, in Hellboy.
I tend to put it this way. I don't mind the way churches and religions are pictured in games like Final Fantasy or Grandia. It's obvious that the games are works of fiction. In the same way, the Hellboy series is a work of fiction, and the religion and spirituality of Hellboy is written to proceed the story. To me, that's fine, because nobody in their right minds is going to take Hellboy as the end-all be-all authority on religion. Same thing goes for Grandia, or Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest, or Star Ocean, and so on and so forth.
Hellboy 2, as a movie, did a wonderful job of transporting people into a fictional world. The characters, their situations, and their realities, for just a couple of hours, became the reality of everone in the theater. Yet, when the theater walked, there were giggles, laughs, and people talking about the ectoplasmic entity getting the best of Hellboy. I didn't hear anybody walking out discussing how they could actually make an Iron Man suit based on the movie designs, or how Gamma Poisoning wouldn't actually have that effect on a person, without serious chemical alterations before hand.
In that view, I think Hellboy 2 succeeded where few recent movies have. It succeeded in taking people to a new world. Familiar, but still very, very unreal.