Monday, February 14, 2011

Choice, Fate And A Big ___* Stone Hand: A Theological Review of Hellboy

What is it that makes a man a man? Is it his origins, the way things start. Or is it something else, something harder to describe? Well, lets look at that and lots of more fun stuff as I review, Hellboy, and although it is based on a superhero comic book, about a demon, it has a lot more really great God stuff then you would think it would, so here we go.
Plot: In the 2nd world war, Hitler, in his goal of world domination, becomes obsessed with the occult and the possible power it could bring. With this he sends some soldiers and henchmen to an island in Scotland were some ruins exist in hope of opening a door through to another dimension where the gods of chaos live. The leaders of this expedition are Hitler’s lead assassin, (he looks a bit like a Nazi C-3PO, except this one likes to experiment on himself and is really good at killing people) and head occult advisor Grigori Rasputin, (yeah, that Rasputin, the one that is supposed to be dead long ago in Russia, it seems he doesn't die so easily).

So, just as the Nazis open the portal, Professor Broom from the BPRD and the American army show up, (The BPRD stands for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in case you were wondering, it is an agency that wa founded for, “when things go bump in the night, they bump back” or in this case to stop the Nazi’s from destroying the world opening portals, which is just rude) and throw a monkey wrench into the works, (actually, it was a grenade, but a monkey and/or wrench would have probably worked too, those dang monkeys can destroy almost anything if you give them a wrench, or dynamite) and before the super ugly tentacle demony thing can “break on through to the other side”** they get the portal closed with Rasputin getting sucked in as it disappears. So yeah, suck on that Nazis, (I frickin’ hate Nazis, I have known some very nice German people over the years, so I have nothing against Germans, but Nazis, they just suck) but smart Professor Broom wants to make sure nothing else made it through so they have a quick look around and low and behold (I have never quite understood this expression, does it mean get on the ground and look up? Or look at the ground and see things? Beats me either way, but I keep using it anyway) they find the cutest little red monkey looking demon you ever did see, who just so happens to have one normal hand, and one that is really big and made of stone, (that gets explained later).

So, seeing as he is so cute, and they didn’t really want a baby demon running around loose, Professor Broom adopts him and the army unit nicknames him, “Hellboy”. Cut to 60 years later, and Rasputin is brought back by his Nazi girlfriend (Nazis, I frickin’ hate, ahh, wait a minute, I already ranted about them, ok, moving on) and just can’t wait to “bring the ruckus”***, and the first thing they want is, you guessed it, (if you haven’t guessed it yet I will give you time now …………………………………………… ………………… ….  did you get it yet, no, keep trying ………… ……………… ……………… Ok, times up, if you haven’t guessed it by now I will just tell you and we will just call you “Special” when referring to you in all future blogging sessions)
So they want Hellboy, who is now fully grown, (although he ages slowly so he still acts like a teenager even though he is 60 years old) loves kittens, shaves his horns down to try and look more human and is the governments #1 answer to all your bump in the night paranormal needs. He is now a member of the BPRD with his dad, along with a telepathic fishy guy named Abe Sapian (who was found in a secret room in a hospital the day Honest Abe Lincoln was killed, so they gave him his name, yep, makes sense to me too), and Liz Sherman, who is a pyrokinetic (that means she can start and control fires with her mind for all you non geeks out there) and also has an on again/off again relationship with Hellboy.
Together they are a secret team that stops all the bad stuff that us “normal” people have no clue is going on all around us.  As for the rest, let’s just say that lots of cool fighting and adventures happens as the bad guys try and use Hellboy to end the world and the good guys try and stop them. (Frickin’ Nazis)

Main Themes:
What a difference a father can make! - Some parents have perfect little children, some have kids that are great but kinda mischievous, (my two kids fit in this category God bless 'um) and then you have the kids that get into a fair bit of trouble that need some, or a lot of extra attention (at this point if you can't think of anyone you know who is like that, then it probably means that it is you, but don't worry, God loves you too) but in the case of  Professor Broom, he had a demon for a child, literally. So the question that is often asked about childrens behavior is, Nature VS Nurture. Do they act good and sweet because they are raised like that, or would they just be like that anyway, because it is who they are. Well, what if your son is a demon, and not just any demon, a prince of demons, (yep, Hellboy is actually royalty, he was born to rule over, well, everything, including earth) you would expect that they would turn out terrible, no matter how they were raised, right? So how come Hellboy spends most of his time, (when he is not drinking beer, eating nachos, trying to get Liz to take him back or playing with his kittens) fighting evil and saving the world? Well, cause that is what his dad taught him to do. There is a quote in a book that you may have heard of, it is called THE BIBLE. And in, THE BIBLE, there is a book called PROVERBS, which in chapter 22, verse 6 you will find these words of wisdom, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”. This is why Hellboy is who he is.  If Rasputin had gotten a hold of Hellboy as a baby, he most certainly would have ended up being the earth destroying demon prince that he was supposed to be, but because a decent, loving, God fearing, man became his father It changed everything. What a difference a father can make.
I know this is actually a poster for Hellboy 2, but it has a great shot of his hand, so just deal with it.
What is it that makes a man a man? – This is another major theme the comes up in Hellboy. When the cheif character in the story is not a man, but a demon, but he lives in the humans world and spends much of his time protecting them, it makes sense that he wants to be accepted by them. In Hellboy's case, his dream is that he could walk down the street like everybody else and not be called a freak, in all accounts, he wants to be a man. But he is not a man, at least, not in terms that most people would accept. Now Hellboys father knows this, yet, he also knows that being a man is more then just being human and reaching a certain age, but it is something that is much more then that, regardless of origin. Professor Broom says in the film when talking to a BPRD agent, “He was born a demon; we can't change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.” and that is actualy a key point in the movie, because Hellboy is given a choice later to embrace his roots and end the world or side with his adopted world and save it, and this comes down to a choice, of being a man or a demon. As for his choice, lets just say there is a sequel, so you can probably figure out which one he chooses. 

Theological Discussion Points:
As with other TMR, (that is theological movie reviews for all those playing along at home, 3 points for you if you knew that already) I am just gonna throw out some key thoughts and let you smarter people see if there are any more that I missed. Feel free to let me know if you come up with anything and I could add it to the list and give you some cool interweb credit.

To start, I think one of the cool things is that Hellboy is changed and redeemed from a life of evil because of being adopted by a loving father. His life was changed for the better and put on a different path because of this. Well, so what you may ask? What is your point? Well, I can empathise with Hellboy because of this, becuase I was adopted and redeemed too. Now before people starting calling my parents saying, "I didn't know Peter was adopted?" (which would then cause my Mom to go into her, "10 pounds 2 ounces 30 plus hours of labor" spiel again , and nobody wants that) know that I am talking about a spiritual adoption. You see, all christians are not born that way, it is a choice, we have to accept Jesus, and in turn God adopts us as one of his own children, and when that happen, we are forever changed, just like Hellboy.

I call him Son
Another quick point dealing with the father and adoption thing, there is a point in the film when Rasputin confronts Professor Broom about Hellboy's name that he learn't from his master, saying, "He disclosed to me the child's true name. Would you like to know it?" to which Professor Broom replies, "I already know what to call him. I call him "son".". How cool is that, well, pretty cool, cause that is what God calls us, (well, if you are a girl he calls you daughter, but you get the idea) He knows who we are, cause we are his, and I am a big fan of being God's son, so yeah, Booya for that.

Oh Yeah, The Hand Of Doom, thats what this thing is.

Choice and fate And A Big ___* Stone Hand is the name of this post because this is a huge theologocial theme that is at the core of Hellboy. Do we have a choice in what we do, or are we all just prisoners of fate, and in Hellboys particular case, the world hangs in the balance. This is where the Big ___* Stone Hand comes into play. You see, as cool as Hellboys Big ___* Stone Hand is, it actually has a purpose, and a name, The Hand Of Doom, (that is not ominous at all). The Hand Of Doom is more then just a stylish appendage, it is actually a key. But a key to what you ask, (I know you actually didn't ask, but I just roll that way, or type that way, I guess) well, it seems the evil tentacle god thingys really want to come over for a visit, and they sent a big slab of marble over years ago with 2 large round indents in it, and it appears that is a door to their apartment complex, but it needs a key to open it, and that key is called, The Hand Of Doom****. So, Hellboy literally holds the fate of the world in his Big ___* Stone Hand, and although I have never held the fate of the entire world in my hand, (you probably never have either, but then again, I have no clue who is reading this, apparently I have readers in lots of places around the world, Germany, England, Netherlands, Canada, wait a minute, I live in Canada, so that is probably my mom, anyway, my point is some of you might have held the fate of all of us in your hands, but it is mostly unlikely, cause if you did you probably would be to busy to read my silly blog) but what I have, and everyone else in their grasp, is the ability to influence and change the direction of peoples lives, in particular those of teens and young people. I have seen first hand (pun not intended) how much power can reside in my hands, and how I use them can bring positive or negative impacts on this world. So I beleive we all have a hand of doom, (not necessarly a Big ___* Stone one, but you get the idea) and it is up to us on how we use it, now go save the world and remember to wash up before dinner.

Conclusion: Well, that is all I got for now, so I will end with a quote from one of the characters from the film, take it away Meyers, "What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don't think so. It's the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them."

*My wife told me I am not allowed to use the word that I want to here, so you feel free to put any word that fits and you are comfortable with and I will get to stay out of trouble.
**This phrase snuck in here cause I watched a documentary on The Doors called "When You're Strange" the other night narrated by Johnny Depp, it is pretty good, give it a chance if you into or interesting in the band.
***There is no reference to any rapper in this statement, I just liked the way it sounded, so if you are the rapper that came up with that phrase, sorry about not giving you a shout out.
**** I actually like the idea of the hand of doom alot, being that everyone basically has one, so I have been toying with the idea of getting it as a tattoo, but I am still on the fence about it.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Peter. I didn't see Hellboy for a long time because it just seemed like a weird concept, but when I did see it I quite enjoyed it. Better than some of the more traditional superhero movies.

    "Lo and behold" is the proper spelling of the phrase, and it means "Look over there and behold." You know, like the Lo that we have in some of our Christmas carols. Hope that helps. :-)