Worth A Look: 40.21%
Pretty Bad: 11.34%
Total Crap: 8.76%
13 reviews, 116 user ratings
by Trevor Gensch
In a cinema flooded with comic book adaptations it is great to see a Director taking a different approach to the well-worn path of discovery, realisation, battle, resolution. But with Hellboy, del Toro has given us a very different look at yet another anti-hero.Which isn't to say that Hellboy is perfect, it has tiny niggles in it that keep it from the mantle of true greatness. But Hellboy is still a very good movie, and well worth your investment of time, money, liquid refreshment and large tub of buttered popcorn.
"I hate comics, but I LOVE this!"
We are back with the evil Nazi's again in this one, and their seemingly inexhaustible and limitless teams of occult specialists, scientists and jack-booted goons.
While trying to open up a portal to a realm of evil nasties to assist Hitler in winning the war, they are interrupted by a squad of American soldiers, assisted by spectacle-rubbing scientist Bruttenholm.
But something did manage to make it through before the Germans were thwarted, a little red imp, who takes an instant liking to the bemused Bruttenholm.
Fast forward to the present and we have Bruttenholm in charge of the Institute of Paranormal Research, really just a secure place to store the freaks. With a little help from a telepathic fish called Abe Sapien the trio combat the other-worldly nasties still lurking in the shadows.
Hellboy has an effortless style to it that puts it ahead of other similarly-themed comic adaptations like last year's "5 points for trying" Punisher, or even 1995's mish mash Spawn. Some of it has to be with the sparky and energetic script from Guillermo del Toro, but it mostly has to do with a cast that inhabit their roles so perfectly.
Perlman is fantastic as the cigar chomping Hellboy; the role requires a lot of "tongue in cheek" type dialogue, which Perlman knows how to deliver to its maximum effect. He simultaneously brings a lot of menace to his character while still making him almost a "charming" type of guy. For every scene where Hellboy slams another beastie into a wall, you have another with a love-sick guy spying on his girlfriend being hit on by another man.
The supporting cast are uniformly excellent; Rupert Evans as a rookie agent assigned to Hellboy, Selma Blair as the off-kilter young girl who has a problem with fire, and Doug Jones as the psychic amphibian. And special mention must go to the voice of Abe Sapien, David Hyde Pearce, without which Mr Jones would just be a slimy wet thing waving his arms about - he brings a level of humanity to the character that mere gestures could not.
But of course Hellboy is the star, and rightly so.
As I mentioned before, this movie is near greatness, but does not achieve it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the end appears rushed and anti-climatic, the "final level monster" seems too easy to dispatch.
Secondly, I couldn't shake the feeling that there is a longer film trapped inside this one, waiting to burst out - it seemed there were a few bizarre jumps, leading to (especially in the case of Blair's character) underdeveloped roles and a lack of explanation. And Hellboy certainly wouldn't hurt by being longer, its a densely plotted film as is, and giving it a bit more breathing space may assist it greatly.
Thirdly, it was disappointing that Hellboy really only fought against one type of monster, in essence fighting one villain. While the dog-like tentacled creature was well realised, it did get a bit repetitive when more of them kept reappearing, like setting "instant respawn" mode on a video game.
But these are minor quibbles over what is in general a very good film.With a sequel already green-lit, it looks like we will be seeing the further adventures of Hellboy in the near future.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9069&reviewer=343
originally posted: 08/23/04 13:25:35