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Look out world, here comes Hellboy! Hellboy is based on the Dark Horse comic series of the same name. He's big, he's red, and he's, um, kind of wishy-washy when it comes to affairs of the heart. Yes, Hellboy is not your typical action hero! He's actually the demonic result of a plan by World War II Nazi villians, once again tampering with supernatural matters best left untampered with. When the evil Nazi plan goes awry, he's rescued by Allied Special Forces. You could call this prologue Saving Private Hellboy! Now, 60 years later, Hellboy works for The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, battling the forces of evil as a member of the secret organization's small team of strangely-empowered crime fighters. How many secret crime-fighting organizations are there now, anyway? I've lost count.
What I liked about Hellboy was his blue-collar personality, played to grumbly perfection by Ron Perlman. Sure, he may save the planet from time to time, but hey, he's just doing his job. No big deal. Of course, he wouldn't mind actually being appreciated for it once in a while. He also wouldn't mind having a girlfriend, but then what girl would want a gigantic, bright red freak for a beau? Another freak, perhaps?
The tough but insecure loner with a heart of gold is familiar acting territory for Perlman. He is best remembered as Vincent, the Beast of television's Beauty and the Beast back in the late 1980's. I have a feeling that Hellboy is going to change that. With the help of a lot of makeup, some demon-worthy prosthetics, and a little CGI, Perlman succeeds in making Hellboy his own. In fact, his performance is such that I'm now convinced that Ang Lee's Hulk could have worked much better with a real actor as the title character.
Unfortunately, Hellboy alone isn't enough to make this a good movie. And no, I'm not talking about visual effects. Hellboy has plenty of those. What this movie really could have used was an original story to back them up. Don't get me wrong, there's actually more talking than action in Hellboy, but aside from a bunch of jokey one-liners, none of it really goes anywhere.
Speaking of action, it's all at the lower end of the PG-13 spectrum, and much of it is rather blatantly pinched from Men in Black. I imagine they had to cut back on violence just to keep the word "Hell" in the title. Too bad, since what we're left with is essentially a kid's action/comedy, more appropriately entitled Heckboy.
So, those who aren't Hellboy comic book fans may find much of this movie a senseless, cheesy bore. Come to think of it, those who are Hellboy comic book fans probably won't like it much, either. Oh, well. Perhaps Hellboy 2 will be better!
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Written By: Mike Mignola (comic books) / Guillermo del Toro (screenplay) /
Guillermo del Toro and Peter Briggs (screen story)
Starring: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden,
Jeffrey Tambor, Ladislav Beran, Corey Johnson, Biddy Hodson, Kevin Trainor,
Doug Jones, David Hyde-Pierce
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and frightening images.