Hellboy (2004)
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Review Date: April 01, 2004
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Richardson
Ron Perlman as Hellboy
Selma Blair as Liz Sherman
John Hurt as Professor Bruttenholm
A demon child gets transported through a black hole and onto our planet to become...Hellboy! The child is brought up by a scientist who secretly raises him in under the supervision of the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) Once grown up, the man, who despite shaving down his horns, still looks very much like a friggin' Hell-man, partners with other super-"freaks" in order to stop the end of the world...or something. Point being, he's a good guy with a large hand that can kick ass. Want some of that shit?!
A fun monster movie that didn't reel me in entirely because the whole demon/occult angle has never interested me, either as a reader of comic books or moviegoer, but did entertain me throughout, especially during many of the impressively handled battles between Hellboy and the dogs from hell. The trailers for this movie had scared the CGI out of me, but on the whole, the film excelled at its computer imagery, most of which was fluently integrated into its otherworldly society. In fact, I was completely taken by all of the graphics, save for the blue fire related to Selma Blair's character, which stood out somewhat. The film plays a lot like the X-MEN, dealing with half-human breeds who help us "go bump" against those bumpers in the night, but does so without the sheer number of characters of the former film. The thing that sets this movie apart from that one, and other comic book related pictures, is its focus on a romance as well, one which actually worked within the confines of this incredulous Nazi-based plan to annihilate the world, with Blair's soft touch of character, playing perfectly against Ron Perlman's unruffled (& sensitive) superhero. I especially enjoyed the scenes in which Hellboy started to feel jealous...very cute stuff. I know that might sound weird considering that most of this film is based in action, calls to the dead and monster fights, but the aspect that most stuck out for me was that connection between the two mutants.

That said, the action scenes also have to be propped for delivering the goods, with one specific mano-a-monster in the subway system kicking ass and then wiping it too. I loved the film's opening as well, a creepy, crawly, rainy, grungy origin that establishes the film's basic plotline and tone early on (action with touches of humor) I only wish the film hadn't continued on the goofy Rasputin-from-the-dead storyline, which in both character and arc, wasn't as engaging as other possible more contemporary confrontations that Hellboy might've exploited better. I know I'm complaining about something that "wasn't in the film", but that was my impression as I watched them call shit up from hell over and over again. To be honest, I didn't even really understand it all, especially the big monster which popped up near the end (I have no idea what that was or its purpose, etc...) Thankfully, the main characters were well established, especially Perlman's Hellboy, who was fun to follow, Blair's Liz Sherman, a woman unsure about her future with her man (and her powers) and Abe Sapien, a slimy fish-man who sounded like Frasier's brother, but worked under the circumstances (although I've always found "psychic" characters to be too much of a screenwriter's best friend-"We'll get the guy to be psychic so that he'll know everything!!)

The lead baddie was a disappointment though, as both the character and actor didn't bring any life to the proceedings, but were thankfully backed-up by one of the coolest mofo bad guys this side of Darth Maul, Vader and those crazy ninjas from BLADE II, in Kroenen, a knife-wielding black-clad Nazi with axes to grind, good guys to slice and good girls to dice. I loved this dude and I'm glad that he was even more prominent than the lead baddie here. The man said little, but spoke loudly through his actions. On the downside, I'm not sure what the heck that blond chick had to do in the story, I thought the lead FBI kid was a little too "green" for my taste, and some of the "Star Trek" extra FBI agents who tagged along for the final tete-a-tete were a little too obvious as pawns in the game of "who dies first", but that's life. I think the film also ran a little too long, didn't require Jeffrey Tambor's character as the typical "asshole boss" who for some unknown reason still doesn't respect Hellboy even after decades of consistent service to the government (???), or the over-the-top somewhat HULK-ish ending with everything in the world seemingly lighting up (but meaning very little), but they weren't major problems, just minor peeves. I think a Hellboy series could work if they move away from the whole "demon/forces from hell" thing and allow HB to kick ass in the modern world with his team of X-FILE co-horts plugging away by his side. Sign me up for another round...!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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