This one’s worth checking out.

Kroenen reveals his knives.

Enjoyable; fun to look at.

He was born within the fires of the beast. He has the appearance of a demon. He has the strength of many men. He is immune to even the hottest of fires. He is indestructable. He likes cats. He is Hellboy.

Based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name, Hellboy is a 2004 action-fantasy movie, directed by a man who is limitlessly inventive when it comes to creating magical and strange-looking creatures – you know him as Guillermo del Toro. Hellboy might not be his finest moment, but it is a pretty good one.

Hellboy opens in Scotland in 1944, during World War II – an era beloved by comic book-films, it seems – where Nazis, together with the mystical Grigori Rasputin (Karel Boden) construct a time portal as a team of Allied, led by young Professor Broom (Kevin Trainor) look on. They destroy the portal, right after it sucks in Rasputin, and kill off most of the Nazis, except for the seemingly immortal assassin Obersturmbannführer Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), who escapes. They then come across a small ape-like creature with an enormous fist. A baby demon that came from the portal, they suspect, and they name it Hellboy.

Sixty years later we join an FBI agent named John Myers (Rupert Evans) as he meets an elderly Professor Broom, now played by John Hurt, at Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, where he is introduced to a grown Hellboy (Ron Perlman), a psychic fish-man named Abe Sapien (body by Doug Jones; voice by David Hyde Pierce) and later a woman who controls fire, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). Broom explains that there are indeed “things that go bump in the night”, and that the BPRD are the ones that bump back.

And, yes, what they do is of course “classified” and “covered up by the government” and such. Trouble is obviously caused if a human being manages to snap a photo of Hellboy and post it online somewhere.

Our heroes posing for a photograph.

The BPRD soon get work to do, as Ilsa von Haupstein (Bridget Hodson) together with Kroenen, not only resurrects Rasputin, but also summons a bunch of demonic, dog-like beings with whom Hellboy must fight – y’know when he isn’t involved in a tiresome love triangle with Sherman and Myers or bickering with FBI Director Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor). The film does provide some fun action scenes, though.

But Guillermo del Toro never did impress me much with his action films; I am one of those who thinks that his 2006-film Pan’s Labyrinth proves that dark fantasy is the genre that Del Toro is made for. That isn’t to say that Hellboy is bad, though; it is actually rather enjoyable, if sometimes dull and other times a bit silly.

I must say that Del Toro did the right thing when fighting with the studio to get Ron Perlman cast in the title role. The man is a marvelous actors and although this isn’t one of his best films, Hellboy is certainly one of his best performances; he’s perfect for the character. Otherwise the film has little to offer in terms of acting; John Hurt and Doug Jones are good, naturally, but actors like Selma Blair, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans and Jeffrey Tambor aren’t really much to cheer for. I cared little for their characters, also.

It is probably that love triangle between Hellboy, Liz and Myers that bores me the most. It seems as though Hollywood enjoy slowing things down by inserting pointless love triangles in their films. We all saw Pearl Harbor, didn’t we? When there are nicely designed monstrosities running around, posing a threat to man kind, I think you need to focus more on that then on whether or not Liz likes you, Hellboy.

The film has a collection of problems, yes, but it shines bright when it comes to its creativity in visuals, creatures and sets; the stuff that is great in most Del Toro-films. It seems the best way to describe the Hellboy-film is to use the classic phrase “Meh, it’s okay”. So there you have it.

The sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, involves even more good-looking monsters but even more pointless subplots. Rather hard to say if it’s better or worse.

3.5/5

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