There is something inexplicably interesting about the casting of
Ron Perlman (“City of Lost Children”) as the lead in a
superhero movie. Based on Mike Mignola’s long running comic
book series from Dark House Comics, “Hellboy” is
faithfully and enthusiastically translated to the big screen by
director Guillermo del Toro (“Blade II”).

Film Reviews
Take that Ben Folds. (Courtesy of Columbia)

“Hellboy” opens with the revelation that the Nazis
turned toward the occult near the conclusion of World War II and
attempted to open a portal to hell in order to turn the tide in the
Axis’s favor. Though the effort was thwarted by Allied
forces, an infant demon managed to pass through before the portal
closed. However, thanks to a nebbish but determined scientist who
decides to raise the boy as his own, the creature ends up on the
good side.

The events of World War II led to the creation of the Bureau for
Paranormal Research and Defense, where Hellboy resides in hiding
from society. “Hellboy” shares territory with
“Men in Black,” another like minded comic-book
adaptation that deals with this world of storytime creatures and
the people who labor to keep them separate from everyday citizens.
The lack of a Will Smith ego or Tommy Lee Jones self-assumed
coolness makes this film surprisingly real.

The visual style is true to Mignola’s comics and the tone
manages to stay enjoyable, all while dealing with the apocalypse
and Hellboy’s father’s terminal cancer. Ron
Perlman’s believability as a 6’5’’
man-child from hell is the glue that holds the entire film
together. He captures the cigar-smoking, dingy trenchcoat-wearing,
horn-filing attitude with camp and conviction. He shoots off
one-liners with ease and grace, all in the middle of brutal fights
with more of his trademark wit intact than Spider-Man managed to
retain in his entire film.

The villains, while extra evil and malicious with their Nazi
affiliations, have the typically vague movie motives of general
world destruction. It’s all understood that they need to be
stopped despite how cool their retractable spinning blades are;
however, a more distinctive scheme would have sharpened the

After an engaging and confident first two acts, the third is
unfortunately weighed down by the need for a large fight and a
dime-store discourse about fate and free will as Hellboy searches
the depth of his soul in all its predetermined dramatic glory. Even
an anticlimactic ending can’t take away from the pure
entertainment of this film. “Hellboy 2” is certainly
something to look forward to.


Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

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