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Hellboy


Sasha Lane, David Harbour and Daniel Dae Kim star in a scene from the movie "Hellboy." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Lionsgate)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Near the end of "Hellboy" (Lionsgate), the titular character (David Harbour), who has been churning out mordant wit amid the abundant blood and guts involved in fighting noisily evil monsters and staving off the Apocalypse, remarks, "Doesn't anyone ever stay buried around here?"

Well, no, otherwise there'd be no point to any of this story. Pretty much all the villains enjoy immortality, and can emerge after a millennium more or less fresh as a daisy, with perhaps some assembly required.

Other characters, freshly killed, pop up instantly as floating spirits. The dead pretty much always get in the last word here.

In adapting graphic novels by Mike Mignola, director Neil Marshall and screenwriter Andrew Cosby have given Hellboy, who appeared in two films in 2004 and 2008, a self-advertised "gritty reboot." They've also saddled him with a considerable existential crisis and nagging father issues.

With filed-down devil's horns, a bright red complexion and something of a tail, Hellboy works in London as a paranormal investigator for his adoptive dad, Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm, (Ian McShane), which brings him into perpetual conflict with lost souls and the occasional bunch of surly giants.

He's something of a moral figure; he's on the side of good -- or at least his interpretation of what's right. He'd rather be an ordinary working stiff, so he's mortified to learn that he was birthed out of the bowels of hell as part of a Nazi experiment near the end of World War II.

He likes humans but doesn't get to be around them very much. Even cuddly infants turn out to be the ugliest of demons.

Hellboy's arch-nemesis is Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), who had been killed by King Arthur in the sixth century and chopped into pieces -- all of them then sent to the far ends of the British Isles to prevent her return. Nimue inspires deep loyalty, and an army of boar-faced monsters has been energetically finding the crates that hold her parts and stitching her back together again.

The percussive violence and high splatter factor -- all of it placed at the service of giving Hellboy funny observations to make -- have a deadening effect, making this difficult to take as casual entertainment.

The film contains gun and knife violence with pervasive gore, some profanities and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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CAPSULE REVIEW

"Hellboy" (Lionsgate)

The demon-fighting title character (David Harbour), who appeared in two films in 2004 and 2008, gets a gritty reboot courtesy of director Neil Marshall and screenwriter Andrew Cosby. In adapting graphic novels by Mike Mignola, they've given him a considerable existential crisis, nagging father issues and an arch-nemesis (Milla Jovovich) who dates back to the Middle Ages. Although he's on the side of good, or at least his interpretation of what's right. the percussive violence and high splatter factor have a deadening effect, making this difficult to take as casual entertainment. Gun and knife violence with pervasive gore, some profanities, frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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CLASSIFICATION

"Hellboy" (Lionsgate) -- Catholic News Service classification, L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. Motion Picture Association of America rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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