Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Written By: Guillermo del Toro, Peter Briggs and Mike Mignola (comic books)
For a long time this was one of my favorite comic book films. At this point in time there is plenty of steep competition though as comic book films seem to own the big budget movies that are released. However in 2004 when this movie came out I thought that the only films in the genre that were better were X2 and Spiderman. I had never heard of Hellboy before seeing the movie and had absolutely no familiarity with the comic. I felt like I was taking a chance when I watched it and was pleasantly surprised when I not only liked it but loved it. I think this movie has a great story and script, excellent casting, and nonstop thrills that keep it interesting.
The first film in a comic book franchise is always tricky to make. Do you please the comic fans or do you create something new that anybody and everybody can enjoy? One way or another somebody is always disappointed and criticism will come. I think this movie did an excellent job with its beginning though. Something that slows down these first films is the fact that everybody has to be introduced, there powers or abilities have to be explained, and that can take up half of the film. This film does all those things so nonchalantly that it makes it surprising that so many others do it wrong. I think that is a credit to the filmmaker. Guillermo del Toro is a highly respected filmmaker and for good reason. Most of the comic book films at the time weren’t getting what you would call high profile directors behind the camera, but this movie is evidence that it clearly makes a big difference. Del Toro not only directed this one but worked extensively on the script himself and movies are always better when the director is telling his own story and not someone else’s. What del Toro made in the end was funny, exciting, and most importantly it was cool. I have said before that one of the most important parts of some movies is how cool they are and del Toro knows how to make a cool movie.
I am a big fan of Ron Perlman and think he was awesome as Hellboy. Perlman has extensive experience being put under heavy make-up for a role having played The Beast on the long forgotten Beauty and The Beast television series. That experience obviously played a part in the decision to cast him because whoever played the part would have to undergo lots of time in the make-up chair. What I found so interesting in Perlman’s performance though was how well he played the part. As Hellboy he was supposed to have the persona of a very young man and Perlman was 54 when this movie was made. He was so funny and smooth as Hellboy, a bit rough around the edges but that’s part of who Ron Perlman is. Perlman is a real nasty looking guy, which is part of what I have always liked about him. He is great as a bad guy and that is where he is often cast, so I specifically like how well he played the good guy in this one. I am a fan of Sons of Anarchy on FX and think that Perlman is great in that show as well, a perfect role for a guy like him.
As for the rest of the cast I will say that most of them did much better than I would have expected from them. I am not usually a fan of Selma Blair and she isn’t great in this one or anything but she isn’t bad either. Rupert Evans was good as the pure of heart FBI set to take over keeping up with Hellboy but they really made a mistake letting him go for the sequel. John Hurt did a great job in his role and I thought Doug Jones was also great voicing the character of Abe Sapien. I don’t know that it really mattered who voiced Abe Sapien though, he is an awesome character and I don’t think it made a difference what he sounded like. My favorite of the other actors in this film though has to be that of Jeffrey Tambor. The man is just awesome in everything he is in and I am always happy to see him in any movie. He has a larger than normal role for him in this one and I like that even better.
When it comes to the bad guys in this one I don’t think it even matters who played the parts. When establishing any story that involves good versus evil you just can’t go wrong by making the bad guys Nazis. Nobody will ever be quite as hated as Nazis. Viewers all over the world love to hate and root against them in movies. The character of Kroenen is without doubt one of the most badass villains I have ever seen in any movie. From the very beginning when he cuts down all those US troops you can’t help but just get excited at what else this guy might do and he just keeps doing it. The mask he wears, the weapons he uses, and the way that he just won’t die is all incredibly badass and awesome. A villain like Kroenen is essential to any movie like this. He isn’t the main bad guy; he is the ultimate weapon the main bad guy sends out to do his business. Karel Rodin played the part of Rasputin and he is very good in that role. He has a villainous look to him and seems threatening with everything he does. I liked him as the head villain but he is overshadowed a bit by his main henchman.
This is the kind of movie I can’t say enough good things about. I was really disappointed with the sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army and think that it was an awful follow up. The movie had its moments but overwhelmingly I thought the story was too silly and weird. Things focused way too much on fairy tales where the first one was more cosmic and mysterious. We do not own the second film because we simply didn’t think it was worth buying. Despite that I still look forward to the possibility of a third film. I have heard nothing in a long time about a third Hellboy but there is always the chance a movie studio decides to roll the dice on a franchise with name recognition. I think this is an awesome movie that anybody would enjoy. I’d imagine plenty of people never gave it a chance simply because it is called “Hellboy,” but they are missing out. This is a fun and exciting movie that is more than worth your time.
I liked this movie a lot. It’s about the only thing I like that has Ron Pearlman in it. Ryan is a huge, huge fan of Sons of Anarchy and I again seem to be the only one in the world that doesn’t like the show. In any case, I think this movie is fun and silly. It’s an easy movie to enjoy and has a great storyline.
I don’t like the poster or the DVD cover of this movie, so I am not going to waste time writing about it.
On to the next film!