After a week or so off, I figured I should try and catch up on my reviewing by taking a look at the two “Hellboy” films. First up, the obligatory origin story:
The basic story starts in 1944, during the last part of World War II, where the Nazis have turned to black magic to try and enslave the World. The Nazis enlist the help of Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) who opens a portal to another dimension. Fighting ensues and the portal is closed, but an ape-like devil boy is left in our World. He is adopted by Professor Broom (John Hurt) and becomes the centre of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence (BPRD) along with Abe Sapien (Doug Jones/ David Hyde-Pierce) and later, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). We flash to present day and follow Agent Myers (Rupert Evans) as he is assigned to the Bureau. However, those pesky Nazis and seemingly unkillable Russians are at it again and it’s up to Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and the rest of the BPRD to stop them. As stories go, I liked it. It’s got a dash of X-Men here (mutants/ “freaks” sticking together) and a bit of supernatural/ religious stuff there all add up to an interesting story. As a comic book fan in general, this is the sort of thing I love reading and subsequently watching. It’s good.
I love Ron Perlman as Hellboy. As I’ve said, I never read the comics so I have no real clue as to how faithful he is to the character, although the general consensus from Hellboy fans is that he does a good job. Perlman just IS Hellboy. He’s a joy to watch, quipping sardonic one-liners in between puffing on cigars and shooting guns the size of a toddler. I really liked Abe Sapien too, with the combined efforts of Doug Jones and David Hyde Pierce bringing the fantastic fish creature to life. The one character that stood above everyone else in my opinion was Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Ladislav Beran) a double knife wielding, gas mask wearing, surgery addicted Nazi assassin, who is so damn cool, the word “badass” fails to do justice to him. I mean, just look at him! The look of this film is amazing. Everything is just so damn stylised. I really am becoming a massive fan of director Guillermo Del Toro, mainly because he’s so visually driven. When watching this film, it’s easy to see where the kernel for “Pan’s Labyrinth” came from.
In terms of scenes, there are some highly enjoyable ones throughout. I love the scene where a jealous Hellboy spies on Liz and Myers out for coffee. I don’t know why, but the thought of a childish muscley devil really makes me chuckle. Whilst not so much a scene, I really like the little moment where the usually antagonistic director of the BPRD, Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) teaches Hellboy to light his cigars with a wooden match instead of a lighter. It’s a nice, understated moment that really stood out for me. I’m a big fan of the subway fight between Hellboy and Sammael demon too. My main problem with the film is the choice of villain. While Rasputin is fine, I’m not a fan of the tentacle-y Sammael hellhounds. They just don’t work for me. The final fight in this (surprisingly long) film is just Hellboy vs a feckin’ massive CGI tentacle monster- which is a bit underwhelming. They really should have made more use of Kroenen.
Anyway, all in all “Hellboy” is an above average film. It’s got a great balance of action, horror and humour to appeal to most people. Definitely worth checking out.