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Hellboy (2004)
Director: Guillermo Del Toro

review by Eric Turowski

Hellboy, a film from the director of the illustrious Blade II, stars Ron Perlman's (the Beast, from TV's Beauty And The Beast) Neanderthal-shaped head, a psychic fish-man named Abe voiced by David Hyde-Pierce (of TV's Frasier), an ancient-looking John Hurt as father-figure Dr Broom, and Selma Blair as Liz, Hellboy's unrequited love interest and pyrokinetic.

Baby Hellboy is summoned by Nazis near the end of World War II, but American soldiers rescue the child. Jump to the present, where Hellboy has a job with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence. He's shaved down his horns to nubs, which is odd, as he's also hidden from the world at large - but not so hidden that he's not featured in the tabloids.

Some miscellaneous plot ensues until we get to the raison d'être for the entire movie - fighting gigantic CGI demons. Personally, I think all CGI looks flat and blue, but the demons look pretty cool. Hellboy kicks demon butt, and gets his own demon butt kicked a little in return. It's all in good fun.

There are several problems with the film. Abe Sapien, the only other character as interesting as Hellboy, seems to drop out of the plot after about 20 minutes. And the main thrust of the plot - some idiotic thing about Rasputin (yes, the same mad monk from the demise of the Romanov monarchy) taking over the world using Hellboy as a key - falls flat due to the totally uninteresting, non-threatening villain (so uninteresting, in fact, that I can't recall the actor's name). And what's up with the relationship with Hellboy and Liz, anyway? Maybe you have to read Mike Mignola's comic to understand that angle.

All in all, the makeup is spectacular, as are the moody art direction and sets. Hellboy doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as other comic adaptations (like the X-Men or The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and features a lot of large-scale action and deadpan humor, so the film holds its own with all the recent comics-to-film adaptations (Spider-Man, Hulk, Daredevil, etc). Perlman hasn't emanated such pathos since Quest For Fire. I liked it in the theatre, and I'll probably rent the DVD when it comes out. If you like your superheroes a little off-centre and enormous CGI demons, this one's for you.
Hellboy

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