At the end of WWII, the Nazis summon a demon to help them. But he is only a baby, and is intercepted by the good guys (i.e., the Americans), and raised to fight on the side of law and order. Fast forward to today, and a grownup Hellboy [Ron Perlman] is battling demons and other nasties threatening the world, in between chomping cigars, uttering laconic one-liners, and grumpily pining after troubled firestarter Liz Sherman [Selma Blair]. But the original summoners (Rasputin, his immortal Nazi lover, and a kind of camp Nazi cyborg thingy) are back, and want Hellboy to open a portal to let other demons through. Mayhem ensues.
I don't know the "real" comic book character, but the movie version is fun. It doesn't make the mistake of many comic-book first movie adaptations: all establishing backstory and no story. There is a bit too much backstory of the original summoning slowing down the start, but then we cut straight to the chase, with lots of action. The backstory with Liz Sherman is then woven into the plot more fluidly, without breaking the pace. A bright red Ron Perlman dominates the screen without ever looking silly. And the fights, in museums, underground railways, sewers, and underground caverns, are great slug-fests.
reviewed 17 August 2008
Hellboy is still working at the Paranormal Institute, but getting on his boss's nerves for not maintaining a low profile. He's also getting on Liz's nerves: they are together, but his slob-like behaviour grates. But all's fair: the new ectoplasmic boss Johann Krauss gets on his nerves. This all becomes secondary when the ancient elf Prince Nuada decides that the humans have broken their truce, and determines to reanimate the indestructible Golden Army to lay waste to them. His twin sister Princess Nuala resists him, Hellboy gets involved, and mayhem ensues.
This isn't quite as good as the previous one for the snappy, snarky one-liners, or the non-stop action. But it has lots of del Torro signs: weird, grotesque underground societies, strange grotesque creatures (check out the tooth fairies!), and beautiful shots. The actions sequences are excellent comic book style violence, and the final showdown amidst giant gearwheels is fun.
reviewed 20 September 2009