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'Hellboy' -- A slice of heaven for moviegoers

By Nick Nunziata
CNN Headline News

Ron Perlman plays the title role in the comic-book adventure "Hellboy."

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(CNN) -- One of the great things about having a passion for film is those rare moments when a movie reminds you of why you fell in love with the medium in the first place.

A lot of people discovered their love of movies through "Jaws" or "Star Wars." Then, people found "Ghostbusters" and "Die Hard" or the Indiana Jones films. In recent memory, the obvious candidates would be "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy as well as the "Matrix" series. This Friday brings another film to add to that list: "Hellboy."

As a movie-watching culture, we take the good with the bad, and often the bad far outweighs the good. The magical moments are fleeting, with potentially classic scenes often buried under fast edits, showy special effects and a steady diet of loud noise and music.

Director Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" is a choice cut of a film, something with true heart and emotion that manages to achieve summer movie spectacle without sacrificing story in lieu of showing off. It's a film with a memory.

There's a lineage, a bloodline living under the surface of the film that recalls pivotal stories such as "Beauty and the Beast," those great Ray Harryhausen "Sinbad" films and more recent classics both gothic and adventurous. For a cynic such as myself, who spends his days complaining about the business, "Hellboy" a breath of fresh air, even if it may carry a hint of sulfur. For people starting to develop their own movie tastes, it just might be their "Jaws" or their "Ghostbusters."

It's the rotten apples (bad movies) that spoil it for the bunch. But it's those few examples of purity that keep us from developing a "glass is half-empty" mentality. It's all too easy to become grumpy and unforgiving in our tastes, adopting that mentality of parents and grandparents about how "they don't make 'em like they used to" anymore.

We need a fresh, uncompromising film such as "Hellboy" to clear the air and remind us why we trade movie quotes, debate over which franchises are the best and plunk down untold dollars at the box office and DVD store.

In a way, I think movies can keep us young, if only for a moment. If we can regain that feeling we got the first time we saw Indy outrun the boulder, James Stewart grapple with Raymond Burr in "Rear Window" or King Kong "fall" for Fay Wray, then some of their immortality rubs off on us. It's why movies have a power over us all, regardless of age, race and political leaning.

"Hellboy" is the latest film that battered my walls of cynicism to a pulp. It reminded me of when I was the ripe age of 5, watching Steven Spielberg's shark wreak havoc by peering through the sleeve of my coat -- too afraid to watch but too enraptured not to see what was happening. "Hellboy" is an underdog, a relatively inexpensive summer movie based on a comic book that aspires to be something more.

How can you not root for a movie like that?


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