Saturday, August 10, 2019

Movie Review: "Hellboy" (2004)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

A demon raised by humans must combat the evil sorcerer Rasputin, who wishes to open a portal to hell and unleash its fury on mankind.

"I said, "Hey, you, on the other side, let her go, because for her, I will cross over, and then you'll be sorry!"" (Image Source)
Guillermo del Toro ventures once again into the world of comic book adaptations, only this time, instead of taking over someone else's vision, he gets to realize his own from the beginning. "Hellboy" is written and directed by del Toro and is adapted from the Dark Horse comic series of the same name, which was created by Mike Mignola. The film stars Ron Perlman as the titular Hellboy, a demon who came to earth from another dimension during WWII. Since then, Hellboy has been raised by the founder of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a scientist named Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm (John Hurt). Other B.P.R.D. members include a psychic fish-man named Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, voiced by David Hyde Pierce), Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Hellboy's love interest/human fireball who is learning to control her powers, and FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans), who was hand-selected by Broom to work with Hellboy. The evil wizard Rasputin (Karel Roden) has emerged 60 years after WWII to open a portal between earth and Hellboy's home dimension so he can destroy the world. Hellboy and his friends must make sure that doesn't happen.
Movie still for 2004's Dark Horse comic of Hellboy featuring Ladislav Beran playing Karl Ruprecht Kroenen wearing a nazi outfit during WWII
"He was born a demon, we can't change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man." (Image Source)
In the early 2000s, there was a resurgence of comic book movie adaptations after the successes of "X-Men" and Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man." "Hellboy" was a bit of a risky property since it didn't have anywhere near the amount of mainstream recognition as those other two franchises. Plus, its cast was to be comprised of mostly character actors without proven box office drawing power. Really, it was Guillermo del Toro's success with "Blade II" that helped secure him the funding he needed to make this film. This factor makes us like "Blade II" a heck of a lot more because we enjoy "Hellboy" so, so much. It is yet another example of del Toro's brilliantly imaginative style in every aspect of his filmmaking. The makeup work is stunningly intricate and fantastically done. It brings us so much joy that the majority of the creature work here is practically created. FX makeup feels like a dying art, and del Toro has always been a proponent of using as much physical work as he possibly can in his projects. CGI is implemented for some of the bigger creatures, but the effects look pretty darn dated in 2019. However, the practical in-camera makeup work still looks stellar even by today's standards, especially on Hellboy himself. It also helps that Ron Perlman was the most excellent casting choice to play such a thorny-but-lovable character. His gruff voice and distinctive square jaw give him the ideal foundation to play such a role. What should not have worked on paper is brought to life with Perlman's pitch-perfect performance. The other actors give great performances as well. John Hurt's concerned and loving performance as Hellboy's father figure Broom is one for the ages. We cannot imagine anyone but Doug Jones playing the intelligent, gracefully flowing and always moving Abe Sapien. Selma Blair's vulnerable-yet-tough portrayal of Liz Sherman is amazing, and her chemistry with Ron Perlman is wonderful. The story itself is extremely engaging and has moments of humor, drama, and action that keep us entertained from start to finish every single time we watch it.
Doug Jones plays Abe Sapian in a movie still for 2004's comic book movie Hellboy, directed by Guillermo del Toro
"My uncle used to say that we like people for their qualities but we love them for their defects." (Image Source)
"Hellboy" is a terrific movie. We're sad it took so long for it to get the love it deserved. We don't want to brag, but we've appreciated it since day one, /end snarky hipster "Hellboy" comment. We remember when we saw this film in the theater and knew we were watching something special. Guillermo del Toro's remarkable vision, attention to detail, and love and respect for the characters, Perlman's flawless look, and the rest of the crew's iconic style help make this adaptation as marvelous as it is.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
RT Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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