movie film review | chris tookey


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  Hellboy Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
6.33 /10
Hellboy: Ron Perlman , Liz Sherman: Selma Blair
Full Cast >

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro, based on the comic books by Mike Mignola

Released: 2004
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 112

The latest from horror maestro Guillermo del Toro, the man behind Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and Blade 2. But Hellboy is not only a horror film – it’s a truly eccentric mixture of fantasy, action, comedy and romance.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Based on a comic-strip by Mike Mignola, it begins with a rip-off of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark as Nazis in 1944 summon up dark forces to help Hitler. They raise a force they can not control – Hellboy.

He grows up from a little demon into a grumpy, red monster (Ron Perlman), minded by John Hurt as a benevolent scientist who works for the FBI. They use Hellboy as a crimebuster whenever the US is under threat from supernatural powers. And he falls in love with a fellow freak (played by Selma Blair), a firestarter who bursts into flames whenever she gets excited.

The joy of Hellboy lies in the visual detail and its quirky unpredictability. There’s a particularly cute, funny sequence as Hellboy seethes with teenage-style angst over his inflammatory inamorata, as she goes on an innocent date with a handsome FBI agent (Rupert Evans).

The action, though extremely violent and sometimes repetitive, has many moments of originality too, and makes neat use of CGI trickery (especially in the scenes where Hellboy takes on endlessly multiplying dogs from hell). Not all the special effects are top-drawer, however, and the fire effects around Selma Blair are less than convincing.

The least impressive aspect of the movie is the main plot line. The villains are dreary - especially Karel Roden as, would you believe, Rasputin, who’s reborn and has made a pact with some dark gods to open their way to Earth.

I would like to have seen more of Hellboy’s cerebral sidekick, Abe the fish man (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), and the various FBI agents and bosses seem undercharacterised. The plot seldom makes sense and deals with Satanism in a flippant way that some may find distasteful.

I certainly couldn’t follow its storyline for the whole of its over-ambitious two hours and 12 minutes, but it has some darkly comic moments, a lot of visual verve (loads of Gothic detail and a palate of mainly reds and blacks) plus a central performance by Ron Perlman that exudes redneck charisma. I liked it for its originality and sense of fun. Hardcore comic-book enthusiasts will enjoy it even more than I did.

“What immediately attracted me to Hellboy was Mike’s graphic presentation, which was striking and beautiful. He is also a great storyteller, weaving tales that are both mythic and quirky. The character of Hellboy is a unique creation – and a lot of fun – so strong and, at the same time, so human, so vulnerable.”

(Guillermo del Toro)

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