Hellboy

In the final days of WWII, the Nazis attempt some sort of magic to bolster their faltering cause, but instead they open up a portal through which Hellboy arrives and is adopted by an Allied scientist, Professor Broom. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is raised in Broom’s lab, among other, erm, special…entities, such as firestarter Liz (Selma Blair) and the aquatic and telepathic Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, but voiced by David Hyde Pierce). So though Hellboy looks a lot like a demon with his horns (which he carefully files down) and his red skin and freaky arm, he’s actually been more of a force for good, deployed when only his special skills will do: welcome to the (secret) bureau for paranormal research and defense.

W4lFb0LOf course, no one would make a movie about a guy just doing his part to make the world a safer place – not one called Hellboy, anyway. Those Nazi fucks are back, and their aim is to recruit Hellboy back to the dark side, where he belongs.

With master of horror Guillermo del Toro leading the way, the Hellboy movie is at its best when Hellboy is among the people he loves; it’s the quieter moments between the impressive action sequences that give this movie heft. Perlman is pretty damn magnetic as the spawn of satan, and delivers the kind of dry humour that no other comic book movie has come close to. It’s not a perfect movie but you can tell how del Toro has tried to smooth out some of the uneveness between Hellboy’s down time and his work. There’s more to him than you might guess and despite his monstrous looks, he’s got a good dose of humanity {this is a common theme of del Toro’s, I’ve noticed: the true monsters are never the ones who look the part}.

Clearly a fan of the source material, del Toro embraces some of Hellboy’s ridiculousness. He’s faithful to the wit and the charm and the misfittedness of the whole endeavour. And actually, who better than del Toro, who has made a career out of defining and applauding the outcasts, to pay homage to the movement’s red leader?

Hellboy is a lot of fun if you give yourself up to it. It already has a memorable character, and Perlman is nothing if not the perfect choice to play him. But Guillermo del Toro is also the perfect choice to colour in his surroundings. The production design set the standard for all comic book movies that came after. Del Toro knows that the details are where it’s at – it’s where old fans will find home, and new fans will be created.

 

A new Hellboy is in the works; not the third movie proposed by Del Toro and Perlman, but a complete reboot starring David Harbour instead, which has lots of fans rather upset. We’ll judge the new film on its own merits I suppose, but it feels like this one’s already going in the wrong direction.

 

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14 thoughts on “Hellboy

  1. raistlin0903

    Great review! This was a comic book hero movie that didn’t feel like a comic book hero movie, if you understand what I mean. Perlman was awesome as Hellboy and Del Toro’s direction spot on. Completely agree: I will keep an open mind for the reboot, but I have a bad feeling about this….hmm actually that’s a quote from another movie I guess 😂😂

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  2. Christopher

    I love comic book movies but most of them only seem to be worth watching once. It says a lot about del Toro that this is one that gets better every time I watch it, and you’ve hit on what makes it great: it’s those quiet moments. He lets the superheroes be people too without being heavy-handed about it.

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  3. BuriedOnMars

    My best friend and I were huge fans of the comic when we were in high school. When we heard that they were making this movie, and Ron Pearlman was going to play Hellboy… we might have high fived.

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  4. J.

    I love Hellboy. Reckon you’re spot about some of the best moments are the quieter ones. In fact, two of my favourite scenes are when he visited Liz and when he was following Liz and John around.

    Not sure how I feel about the reboot, cause del Toro obviously had more of his Hellboy story to tell.

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