By Shawn McKenzie 05/12/2004
I realize that this review is several weeks late in arriving, but I didn’t want you to miss the opportunity to check out Hellboy before it left theaters. Like the recent Van Helsing, this one is a fun special effects-laden action flick, but unlike that vampire-hunting movie, this one got mostly positive reviews from other critics.
In 1944, near the end of World War II, the Allied forces go on a secret classified mission to Scotland to stop occult leader Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) and his German assistants Kroenen (Ladislav Beran) and Ilsa (Bridget Hodson) from trying to do something nasty for the Nazis. He was trying to open a portal into the supernatural world and summon the Seven Gods of Chaos so that the Nazis can win the war, but the Allied forces kill Grigori before he is completely successful. The portal was open long enough though to allow a little devilish creature to cross over to our world. The creature is adopted by Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm (John Hurt, Kevin Trainor in Broom’s younger days), the head of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a covert branch of the FBI that was working with the Allied forces. Broom raises the creature as his son, names him Hellboy, and has him live at the Bureau. Fast forward to today and now Hellboy (Ron Perlman) works for the Bureau where he fights the weird things that enter our world. He files down his devil horns (so he will look slightly less devilish), fights evil with his enormous concrete-like right fist, and has a fondness for cigars, Baby Ruth candy bars, and saving stray kittens. He’s also has a bad attitude, so FBI rookie John Myers (Rupert Evans) has been assigned by Head of Special Operations agent Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) to be his new nanny, keeper, and best friend. John thinks that the Bureau is weird right away when he first meets Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, voice of David Hyde Pierce), a psychic fish-man who helps Hellboy out. Hellboy is obsessed with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a troubled fire starter who used to work for the Bureau as well, but now lives in a mental hospital. He becomes jealous when she seems to be attracted to John. Meanwhile, Ilsa and Kroenen, who are both immortal, have resurrected Grigori from the dead, and the three continue their quest to take over the world. Their plan this time is to use Sammael (Brian Steele), the Hound of Resurrection, to cause Armageddon. Every time Sammael is killed, two more are spawned, so it is hard to destroy. After Liz inadvertently destroys the hospital, she rejoins the Bureau where she helps Hellboy, Broom, Abe, John, and Agent Clay (Corey Johnson) battle Rasputin once again, which could mean a personal sacrifice by Hellboy.
Longtime comic book artist Mike Mignola created Hellboy in 1994 for Dark Horse Comics. The character has seen several graphic novels released containing his adventures (the last one having been released in 1997), and now it is a movie, which is a perfect, since he is a very visual character.
Perlman was the perfect choice to play the title character. He is no stranger to heavy makeup, having been the “Beast” in the 1987-1990 CBS TV show “Beauty and the Beast.” Even though the actor is 54-years-old, I hope that this role leads him to head more action flicks (or at least more Hellboy movies.) The rest of the cast are okay, but this is really Perlman’s show.
Guillermo del Toro, the director of Mimic and Blade II, brought his violent comic book style to this film. He tends to make things bigger than life, and it works here. Aside from making Hellboy look impressive, he also makes Beran’s gas-mask hooded assassin Kroenen look very cool. It’s too bad he wasn’t the main bad guy.
My review of Hellboy may be late in arriving, but if I can convince you to check it out before it leaves theaters (it’s probably in discount theaters now), please do. A big, loud comic book movie is always fun, and this one benefits from great performances and a decent story.
Thanks to Century Theatres for letting me see this film. Visit them at www.centurytheatres.com to find the location near you.
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