Michelle goes through hell and back (ok, not REALLY) and tackles the newest movie adaptation of a comic book series. Highly entertaining and wickedly funny, Hellboy is a riot (in a good way), and Michelle loved it so much that she's considering naming a kitten after a certain caustic demon hero.
Seeing as I have a somewhat reluctant attitude towards movies based off graphic novels, I was pleasantly surprised by Hellboy. According to several fans of the comics by Mike Mignola, it’s arguably the best film adaptation of a comic book series yet. There's no extreme distortion of characters or their personalities, and there's no plot twists that makes one go "Who came up with that?!" For the most part, Hellboy stays true to its origins.
On the eve of October 9, 1944, on Skye Island, the world almost ended. This was during World War II, so the Allies and the Nazis have a role here. The Allies have with them occult mystery expert Trevor Bruttenholm of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). Bruttenholm and the soldiers witness an occult ceremony conducted by the infamous Rasputin (by the way, he's supposed to be dead), who is attempting to bring hell on earth, aka the Apocalypse. He succeeds in opening a gateway, but then battle ensues and messes up his plans. While the world is saved and Hell does not come to Earth, something does come through the gate. Bruttenholm ends up adopting a demon baby (who has a fondness for Baby Ruth candy bars) and naming it Hellboy. However, while Hellboy grows up and fights for the side of good, Rasputin is back, and he hasn’t given up on destroying the world. Furthermore, he wants Hellboy to help him do it.
Ron Perlman gives a flawless performance as Hellboy. "I don’t think there was another choice, really," said del Toro. "I think whether you get the movie and it’s for you or not, I think that to me there is no possible argument about him." Perlman, who might be most well known for his role as the Beast in the TV series Beauty and The Beast, has worked with del Toro before and didn’t object to taking up the role. He obviously enjoyed his role, and it shows. He pulled off infamous wisecracks without a hitch, his fight scenes looked awesome, and he stole the show. Most of all, he nails Hellboy's personality: the tough, cigar-smoking badass, and the still maturing young adult who loves kittens and files down his horns in order to try to fit in.
The rest of the cast is not to be left out. John Hurt’s performance as Bruttenholm was quite touching; his passion for his work and his fatherly love for Hellboy was apparent. As strange as adopting a devil baby may seem, it’s believable when you see Hurt interact with Perlman. Selma Blair pulled off an acceptable performance as Liz Sherman, a young woman distraught by her unwieldy fire powers. The feelings her and Hellboy share for each other are apparent, and it makes for a couple of tender and chuckle-inducing scenes. Yet two more people to note are Doug Jones and David Hyde Pierce, who teamed up to bring telepathic amphibian-humanoid Abe Sapien to the screen.
One complaint I've come across recently is that Hellboy has little character or plot development, but there’s two things to consider here. One is that you can only put so much into a movie. Seeing as the film gathers up all four parts of the Seed of Destruction (and manages to put in a small tribute to the talking corpse, ha) how it pretty much keeps true to its origins (you can’t say that about all comic book films), I have no complaints. The second thing to consider is that a good chunk of people seeing this film are not familiar with the comics. People who are new to Hellboy get a great sense of who is who, and yes, it has helped the comic gain some new fans.
Visually, Hellboy looks great. There was a ton of work and fixation done over the make-up. Perlman himself spent four to six hours in the chair each day, and Jones had a load of impressive facial prosthetics on him. The CGI was smooth and seamless. The sets had a fantastic, “Wow this does look like it’s straight out of the comic” feel to them. Above all, I loved the fight scenes. Watching Hellboy pounding on bad guys and hearing his unforgettable lines (“Red means STOP!” he yells in one scene as he punches a car) made me laugh and cheer for the guy. I also liked how the fights sometimes brought out both sides of him. While taking on freaky resurrecting monster Sammael (Brian Steele) with one arm, Hellboy is clutching a box of kittens in the other. Another impressive figure to watch was half man/half machine Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), and let me add that he looked damn creepy. Watching Kroenen whirl knives like nobody’s business was enough to make my eyes widen quite a bit. While the final fight scene was a bit weak, it was the only real flaw I found in this film.
Composed by Marco Beltrami with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra, Hellboy’s soundtrack definitely fits the film. "Nazis" sound cryptic and ominous, while "Hellboy and Liz" is quite stirring. "Mechanical Mausoleum" is a quick-paced piece that's nicely done for one of the film's more exciting scenes. I'm particularily fond of "Rooftop Tango" (anyone who saw the movie knows when that song was played) just because it went right along with the humor of the scene. There is even got a bit of opera going on in one of the songs. Whether the film gets exciting, emotional, comical, etc., the music goes along just fine.
While some say the film may lack in this area or that, Hellboy is truly entertaining, regardless of whether you're a fan or not. I doubt the majority will leave the theaters wanting their money back, and I think most comic fans will be pleased. And remember...
Hellboy: "I'll always look this good." ;)