In last week's Face-Off column
, it was a tight race as to whether your favorite movie version of Tom Clancy's CIA analyst Jack Ryan was played by Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin. We'll call this one... too close to call!
This weekend in I, FRANKENSTEIN
, Aaron Eckhart arrives in theaters as Frankenstein's creation, now reimagined as a superhuman defender of mankind during a war between gargoyles and demons.
Seems like a good time to have another pair of prominent big-screen monster-fighters face off against each other -- VAN HELSING and HELLBOY. Who's the better battler of beasts?
Also Known as
The Left Hand of God
The Right Hand of Doom
Travels the world of the late 19th century and eliminates malicious boogeymen for The Knights of the Holy Order, a secret section of the Vatican proclaiming themselves the “last defense against evil”
Works as a special operative for the clandestine Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), which protects the population from being annihilated by occult and supernatural threats
Black leather duster jacket, heavy metal hair, pimp hat
Brown trenchcoat, bare chest, filed headhorns
Go to Transylvania and assist the royal Valerious family with their blood oath to eliminate the threat of nefarious vampire Count Dracula, whose continued existence is preventing several generations of deceased Valerious kin from entering the gates of Heaven
Stop the resurrected Grigori Rasputin from exploiting Hellboy's demon origins to free the imprisoned serpentine creatures called Ogdru Jahad who'll destroy the Earth, and then later prevent the elven Prince Nuada from activating the indestructible Golden Army, which will exterminate mankind
Has no memory of his true identity
Occasionally has to ride in the back of a garbage truck
Two custom revolvers with crucifix handgrips
Grappling hook gun
Gas-powered automatic crossbow that fires something like a thousand bolts before reloading
Spinning Tojo blades
"The Samaritan", an oversized revolver that fires special monster-killing rounds containing garlic, holy water and white oak shavings
"Big Baby", a six-shot handcannon that fires powerful shells engraved with the words "SUCK ON THIS". It also has a built-in music box
Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), a Transylvania native who Van Helsing accidentally kills when he turns into a werewolf and knocks her onto a velvet couch
Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a troubled pyrokinetic who Hellboy eventually wins the heart of (and knocks up with twins)
Friar Carl, a gadget guru
Abe Sapien, a kindly amphibian with empathic abilities
FBI agent John Myers, a new BRPD recruit
Professor Broom, Hellboy's surrogate father who raised him from a little demon
Johann Krauss, a German psychic and disembodied ectoplasmic spirit who inhabits a special containment suit
FBI director Tom Manning
Nuala, the peaceful elf princess who wants to help stop her twin brother from destroying mankind
Count Dracula, an ancient effete vampire who walks up walls and generally overacts
Dracula's vampire brides, a trio of buxom flying she-demons
Velkan Valerious, a werewolf
Igor, Dracula's laboratory lackey
Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic seemingly killed during a WWII Nazi experiment, only to return decades later
Kroenen, a deadly Nazi assassin kept alive by black magic and clockwork parts
Ilsa Haupstein, Rasputin's lovely but lethal henchwoman
Sammael, a hellhound whose death brings about the reincarnation of two more Sammael
Nuada, an exiled elf prince with a grudge against humanity
Mr. Wink, a giant cave troll who assists Nuada
The multi-talented Hugh Jackman, best known for portraying the adamantium-clawed mutant Wolverine in the X-MEN movies while simultaneously garnering critical acclaim for his serious dramatic work
Veteran character actor and voice actor Ron Perlman, who has appeared in more movies and TV shows than most people would have time to watch in their life
Stephen Sommers, who has also given us THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and DEEP RISING
Guillermo del Toro, who has also given us THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, BLADE II, PAN'S LABYRINTH and PACIFIC RIM
Professor Abraham Van Helsing was originally introduced in Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel "Dracula". Variations and descendents of the character have since appeared in other media, including comics, games, TV shows and movies. Notable actors to portray the character include Peter Cushing, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Plummer.
Created by writer-artist Mike Mignola in 1993, Hellboy has since appeared in numerous comic stories published by Dark Horse Comics, along with several novels, two feature films and a pair of animated movies.
Jackman's VAN HELSING may have more technique when he's dispatching enemies, but unfortunately he's stuck in a cheerless adventure packed with silly script decisions and inconsistent CGI spectacle.
Hellboy has a refreshingly straightforward punch/shoot style, and rather than fight bastardizations of Universal monsters, he must contend with evils in human form along with more fantastical opponents such as dog-demons, Lovecraftian tentacled chaos-things, devilish tooth fairies, an elemental forest god and a self-repairing mechanical army.
Ultimately the playful tone and team dynamic of the HELLBOY movies are more satisfying, and the demon who rejects his wicked heritage for the sake of good wins this clash.