Less Is More in Monster Movies

I don’t think I’d call Hellboy II the worst movie of the summer, though I’m not sure I could actually hand out that prize. (The Happening, perhaps? In truth, I haven’t seen it.) But it was a pretty serious disappointment. Del Toro’s vision is still phenomenal, and not since the height of Henson’s workshop have practical monster effects been this sublimely strange. But like Chris Orr says, there’s just too much of it — he doesn’t know when to stop. He piles creature on top of creature and then makes more creatures out of those; the whole thing’s built on miniature images of itself — it’s like the golden rectangle of monster movies.

I’m as big a booster of overstuffed blockbusters as you’re likely to find. But sometimes less is more, and filmmakers who’re used to working on shoestring budgets find themselves overwhelmed. I’d rather have small and smart than gigantic and unwieldy: Remember — K.I.S.S. — Keep It Small, Stupid. There are benefits to having to work within limits, plus-sides to what often feel like uncomfortable constraints while you’re working within them. More choices isn’t always a good thing. Politically, I’m a libertarian, but when it comes to Hollywood, I think there’s a clear case for paternalism — and Hellboy II makes it in every frame.