a critiQal film review Hellboy (2004)

Plot: FBI agent John Myers (Evans) has just gotten a new assignment with the super-secret Section 51. He comes to find out that Section 51 is a paranormal team of unique individuals led by an elderly man named "Broom" (Hurt). Among this team of paranormal is Hellboy (Perlman): A red demon now fighting on the side of good. But, will even Hellboy be enough to stop an evil villain who is trying to unleash the Seven Gods of Chaos? Based on the Dark Horse Comic by the same name.

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  • ...the devilish main character is a welcome change from the normal superhero, and the plot and witty dialogue help make the movie a most enjoyable ride.

I know what you’re thinking. Yet another comic book hero? I mean we’ve already seen Hulk (2003), Spider-Man (2002), X-Men (2000), Blade (1998), DareDevil (2003)…do we really need to see another? If you’re like me, the answer is obvious: of course!

But for those of you who weren’t into comics when you were growing up, you may be getting just a little bit tired of this comic book hero explosion. You saw the previews for the latest, Hellboy…and you decided you’d had enough comic heroes to last you a little while, so gave it a pass in the theaters. Maybe you haven’t seen all the superhero movies yet, and are debating (now that they’re out on DVD) which one to choose, so here you are. Should you go rent Hellboy or just go watch Blade II (2002) instead?

Ron Perlman actually surprised me by doing a pretty good job in this film. You 80’s fans may remember him as the Beast in the “Beauty and the Beast” (TV) – and more recently as a vampire in Blade II (2002). Sure, he did okay in both of those, but it was surprising to see that he was easily able to jump into the leading man role.

He made Hellboy the character quite personable and made the viewer want to keep watching the film (of course, the dialogue helped him immensely). The other actors did a decent job of fulfilling their roles as well, but the movie mostly rested on Ron Perlman’s shoulders. It was his to make or break and, luckily for us viewers, he made it.

Since I never actually read the Dark Horse comics, I’m not sure how close they stuck to his comic book origin. From what the media has discussed, however, it seems like they did a good job of keeping to the comic storyline. The plot gets you involved right from the start with a bang and keeps you interested throughout the film. It does stray a little in parts, but manages to pull itself back on track to manage a satisfying conclusion. The big surprise in the film is the well written dialogue. It lets the Hellboy character crack jokes that are actually funny and keeps the mood just a little bit lighter.

The special effects creators are definitely put through their paces, which is pretty much the norm for any superhero film. From Hellboy’s unique appearance to crazy looking monsters to a girl enveloped in flame, almost every scene contains some industrial magic, aka creative special effects. The most impressive of these is Hellboy himself. It seems that this film has learned from its predecessors: it’s learned to use as much real life as possible in creating these characters.

Hellboy could have easily become totally computer generated (like the Hulk) but instead the filmmakers basically put a guy in a suit instead. It looks a little weird in the previews but in the film it actually works very well. It gives him an extra sense of realism that would’ve been greatly hampered by making him computer generated. It’s probably easier on the filmmakers too!

Should you non-believers (i.e. non-comic book fans) check out Hellboy? I say Hell Yes. The character is much different from the other superheroes that you’ve seen, and the plot and witty dialogue help make the movie a most enjoyable ride. It’s got a bit of the darker side to it that made Blade (1998) so popular and combines it with a sense of humor to create a unique film.

One last thought: if you saw the previews and are comparing Hellboy to the crap-tastic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), stop right now. Hellboy blows The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) away.

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