From the pits of hell comes an unlikely hero, and that is Hellboy, the latest comic book adaptation to hit the big screen. Though lacking the huge fan bases, budgets and actors that have combined to make Spider-Man and X-Men what they are, Hellboy is amazing adept at being almost as entertaining. It is definitely a lot better than Daredevil.
Hellboy stars Ron Perlman as the title character, a large, red-skinned demon with horns and a tail who, in 1944, was pulled from some other place by the Nazis to pit the world into darkness. However, before the Nazis could claim him, Allied forces found him and raised him as a good guy. Now, in modern times, he's a wisecracking, quick-tempered hunter of the paranormal who even files down his horns to attempt to fit in. Of course, when Rasputin, the Russian wizard that was responsible for bringing Hellboy into this world in the first place, along with some of his old Nazi friends, return to finish off what they started, Hellboy and his freakish friends have to save the day.
For those of you that aren't into comic books, this movie might sound pretty damn weird. In fact, it is a bit strange in theory, but in conception, it is just like any other fun sci-fi film, except that it stars a big red guy with horns. The story is essentially about good versus evil, only this time the characters are much stranger than anything you'd find in X-Men (okay, so not anything...). That being said, if you don't like comic book movies, you probably won't like Hellboy, just because it really caters to audiences that enjoy such films.
However, for those who do like comic book adaptations, director Guillermo del Toro (Blade II) has offered up quite a treat. Though presumably made on a much smaller budget than Spider-Man, the graphics are arguably better and more believable. More so, Perlman's Hellboy works much better in makeup than the computer-animated title character in The Hulk. To top things off, del Toro's vision is very fascinating and fun to watch.
What I was most worried about when watching this film was the cheesiness factor; after all, a movie that stars a sarcastic red demon, a psychic fish guy and an evil Russian wizard can spiral out of control pretty quickly. Amazingly, there are very few cheesy parts - if any - in all of Hellboy, even though the film includes some dramatic scenes between Hellboy and the very normal-looking (well, hot, actually) Selma Blair. Also working in the movie's favor is the humor, which is timed quite well and very funny. Perlman is great in the lead role and gets some killer lines.
As far as action goes, Hellboy is fairly entertaining from beginning to end, though not all of it is action. del Toro does an effective job at making this movie more than just an action movie; it is fairly exciting all the way through, but there is perhaps a little less action than I was expecting. Still, I hardly noticed.
Hellboy is a surprisingly good movie with some good action, great humor and cool special effects. It is definitely aimed at more hardcore audiences than the big Marvel adaptations, but can still appeal to a wide range of people.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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