Film Review of Hellboy

Posted by on Aug 11, 2012 in Articles | Comments Off

Article by Chris Murphy

Film Review of Hellboy – Entertainment – Movies

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“How big can it be? “

Some things are just waiting for. It was a long time coming, but for director Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy was certainly worth the wait. Nurturing his dream project for years before he was finally able to secure a modest budget, Del Toro got to make his adaptation of Mike Mignola’s distinctive comic character, ‘his way’. Spurning the offers of studio executives with their ridiculous suggestions (Hellboy as a normal man who turns red when he is angry!), Del Toro was uncompromising in his vision and held firm until he got the right offer.

Key to both Del Toro’s and Mike Mignola’s vision was the casting of Hellboy himself. Rejecting studio offers to cast the slightly more bankable Vin Diesel, Del Toro was uncompromising to his vision, refusing to cast anyone but a little known, 54 year old supporting role actor, best known from a ‘Beauty & The Beast’ TV adaptation, Ron Perlman. Although well know amongst the ‘geek’ and ‘art house’ community as an accomplished actor who could just as easily turn his hand at small, foreign language films (Cronos, The City of Lost Children) to big budget Sci Fi flicks (Blade II, Alien: Resurrection), Perlman was a massive gamble for Del Toro who had to fight long and hard to get studio backing. He may have been a gamble, but he paid back in spades. Perlman is nothing short of fantastic in the role, really grasping it by the horns, tearing them off and making the role his own.

Taking us back to Hellboy’s ‘creation’, the film starts briskly in 1944 with the allied forces being led by Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) storming an attempt by the Nazi occultist ‘Rasputin’ to summon a demon to change the tide of World War 2. Dispatching Rasputin, the Professor and his team find themselves in possession of the newly summoned ‘red ape’, Hellboy. Sixty years later, while the Professor is in his dying days, Hellboy has only just reached physical (if not emotional) maturity. Working for the Bureau for Paranormal Defence (B.P.R.D.) Hellboy, along with his colleagues Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), a fish-like person with psychic abilities and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a pyrokinetic and object of Hellboy’s affections, are called into action when Rasputin is resurrected from the dead, continuing his plans to try bring about the end of the world.

Despite his modest budget, Del Toro creates a visually sumptuous, stylised world, part comic book, part steampunk fantasy. Every frame is beautifully shot, full of rich colours and dripping in detail. From clockwork assassins with blood that has turned to dust, to hellhounds that multiply when killed, the film is a treasure trove of wacky idea’s that work perfectly in the unique world of Hellboy. Although the pace drops slightly whenever the story turns to the love triangle between Hellboy, Liz and newbie FBI agent Myers (Rupert Evans), the film is full most some great action sequences and witty one liners, only slightly being let down by an anti-climactic last reel, but up to that point, it’s one hell of a fun ride.

You can really feel the passion Del Toro has put into this and it’s great to see someone’s labour of love come to fruition after years of fighting to make sure he could do the source material justice. It just goes to show, good things come to those who wait.

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Chris Murphy

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