Walking Tall.

Starring Ron Perlman, John Hurt and Selma Blair. Directed by Guillermo del Toro.
Running Time: 122 mins.
Rated:
On the 9th October 1944 the Allies lay siege to a Nazi science installation. In this institution the Nazis had been experimenting on an extraterrestrial being, a demon, by applying radiation on him. During the battle the radiation plant explodes and the demon comes to life. Hellboy is born.

Twenty years later Hellboy is a pampered prisoner of the US intelligence services, let out only to apprehend the most ghastly of fiends. Hellboy is sad and lonely, until he falls in love with Liz Sherman (Blair). It is an unlikely romance fraught with obstacles.

Based on Mike Mignola's comic book character, Hellboy is a loud, fast-paced series of fight sequences and theological arguments. The fights get boring and the theology is incomprehensible. Littered throughout the film are references to the Vatican, apocalyptic imagery, earnest discussions about good and evil, and rosaries and crosses everywhere.

The best feature in the screenplay is the self-deprecating humour. Ron Perlman, the enormous six-foot-five actor in the title role, gets the best lines and delivers them to perfection. Director Guillermo del Toro, who blankets this film in monochrome sets and filters, doesn't let his sober visual tastes stand in the road of the light relief.

With such profound lines like, "In the absence of light, darkness prevails' the poorly named and much maligned Hellboy emerges from the shadows to save the day.

This film is only for most ardent student of metaphysics-a-la-science-fantasy.

Fr Richard Leonard is director of the Australian Film office.

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