directed by Guillermo del Toro
(Sony Pictures, 2004)

Comic-book movies don't have to make me believe what they're selling. I know men can't fly (or skitter up walls), and we all realize that accidents with radiation don't bestow super powers.

What they have to do is entertain me, and Hellboy lets me down.

Sure, Ron Perlman plays the role of the big red demonic hero like he was born to it. But, beyond Hellboy's Nazi-driven origins, the movie leaves most of the back-story, character development and motivation for readers to find in the pages of Mike Mignola's Hellboy comics. That makes for a fairly flat, uninteresting movie.

What drives Prof. Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm (John Hurt) to adopt and raise Hellboy as his son? What brings them to the secret U.S. Bureau for Paranormal Research & Defense to fight paranormal crime? Why has firestarter Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) sequestered herself in an asylum? Why does the mystically long-lived Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) want the entire world to be destroyed by seven celestial hell-gods? Why is Karl Ruprect Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), for all of his Swiss army knife attachments, such a 2-dimensional Nazi stooge? Why is the utterly superfluous Ilsa (Bridget Hodson) in the movie at all?

We don't know. Sadly, we don't even care.

The movie has special effects and makeup going for it. It has an appropriately dark attitude and a leading man who's right for the part. But it lacks a good story, and without good plotting the endless fight scenes lose my interest.

Maybe next time, Hellboy.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 12 March 2005

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