"A funny, passionate and vibrant comic book adaptation."
In recent years there has been no shortage of comic book adaptations, a lot of which have been sub standard affairs focusing mainly on the action and not much else. Hellboy stands tall amongst its contemporaries thanks to its dry wit, likeable characters, great performances not to mention the brilliant special effects and superior action sequences.So the plot may be a little silly but it is based on a comic book after all. The film starts in 1944 with the Nazis opening a portal to Hell in order to assist them win the war. Their plans are foiled shortly after as the operation is shut down by US Forces being led by Professor Bruttenholm (who heads the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defence). Luckily for humanity, the full force of Hell did not make it through the portal but a little monkey like red demon did whom Buttenholm finds and decides to adopt him as his son naming him Hellboy.
After the opening sequence and credits, the film jumps forward 60 years with a young FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans) turning up at the BPRD headquarters for a new assignment. Here he meets the aging Bruttenholm (John Hurt) who introduces him to Abe Sapien (Doug Jones voiced by David Hyde Pierce); an amphibious humanoid creature with psychic powers and also to Hellboy who is now about 6 foot 8 and with the figure of a bodybuilder. Myers is assigned to lead the team and is mainly responsible for making sure Hellboy does not go too public whilst battling against evil. We also learn of an ex team member Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) with pyrokenetic abilities who is institutionalised due to having problems controlling her fire starting talent. She also happens to be Hellboy’s love interest (but his affections seem to be a one way affair) Hellboy’s powers include a right arm made of solid stone that can bash through just about any material, heightened athletic abilities and a gun that would make Dirty Harry put his Smith & Wesson away and run for cover.
The same team who tried to open the gates of hell back in 1944 are back to have another go and are assisted by Sammeal, a hideous beast who has a strong reproductive urge and a nasty habit of reincarnation every time Hellboy puts him away. There’s also Kroenen, an immortal Nazi who is particularly handy with the blades that shoot out from his wrists. And then there is the reincarnated Rasputin who is determined to open the doors of hell, annihilating mankind and rewarding him with ultimate power.
Ron Perlman is perfectly cast as the wise cracking, cynical yet love struck superhero and the rest of the ensemble also do a fine job. Del Toro obviously has a deep affection for his source material and does an excellent job bringing the vibrancy of a comic onto the screen. He is also no stranger to making monster movies (Mimic, Blade II) and again creates some truly fearsome villains. The action and fight scenes are well executed and the effects are amazing. Del Toro has created the perfect balance with Hellboy - there’s romance without the cheese; there’s humour without being camp and the action is frequent enough so as not to bore the audience.Hellboy is by far the coolest, funniest and most lovable superhero to make it onto the big screen so far and for those who came out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Van Helsing dazzled by the special effects but feeling short changed on substance, Hellboy is the perfect antidote.