In the final days of World War II, the Nazis attempt to use black magic to aid their dying cause. The Allies raid the camp where the ceremony is taking place, but not before a demon—Hellboy—has already been conjured. Joining the Allied forces, Hellboy eventually grows to adulthood, serving the cause of good rather than evil.
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Hellboy seems like a cool hero, and he deserves a better film than the one he gets here, which is too full of leaps in logic and extraordinarily inconsistent in tone. Like Superman, he seems to care enough for our world in order to save it from some pretty nefarious people when the time comes - perhaps chiefly because, like Superman, he doesn't actually have a home world of his own to go back to. He's cocky; confident and a little rebellious, although remains faithful to those who have taken care of him up to this point in his life. The film's beginning sets an odd, fantastical tone which does not really dissipate for the rest of its runtime. It's 1944, and despite the fact the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles the Germans ever conquered during The Second World War, the Nazis are in Scotland. There, they are looking to end the war quickly; sensing, I suppose, defeat, what with their failing campaigns in North Africa and on the Eastern Front, and so turn to opening up portals to dimensions beyond our observable world in order to call upon higher powers to help them. But, how do they know if this unknown entity will be sympathetic to their aims? The imagery of the opening is also too reminiscent of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", which culminated in such a show - we are at a stage now in blockbuster cinema whereby a film like "Hellboy" decides to BEGIN with it.Alas, for the Nazis, something goes wrong in their experiment when the American (not British) soldiers, who have been tracking them all this way, launch an ambush to quash the mission. With them is a young professor named Trevor Bruttenholm, who is eventually played in his old age by John Hurt. In the ensuing chaos, something does indeed pop out of what was a gateway to Hell - the aforementioned and eponymous Hellboy: a small, red demon who is eventually played in his 'old' age by Ron Perlman, by which point he is a conspiracy theory amongst modern New Yorkers despite there being photographic evidence of him posing in a picture with the soldiers. Guillermo del Toro uses this set up to tell a tale which is mostly interested in set direction and costume, which makes a change to having to sit through a film of this stock which is mostly interested in action, although there is quite a bit of action... In the twenty-first century, Hellboy is kept in an FBI lockup with a variety of other quirky occultist stuff from non-history - he's at an age in his life now whereby he is bored, and craves action and adventure and quite likes the idea of having a girlfriend. Whatever it is they groom young demons to do in Hell, Hellboy isn't getting it here.Away from this, something is brewing - the Nazis who failed to win The War the first time around are gunning for another shot. In true "The Mummy" style, two of these Nazis, played by Karel Roden and Bridget Hodson, are able to live forever in a cursed state and set out with the intent to bring about the apocalypse anyway. On their side is an odd, machine-like tin-made ninja decked out in Nazi garb and a bizarre fish-like creature whose raw brawn they use to buttress their offensive.The thinking and the energy behind "Hellboy" is a lot more interesting than the finished product itself, which finds comfort in telling a tale of heroes fighting villains with the world at stake. More interesting are the characters, particularly the supporting ones who are all at once beautiful; terrifying; fascinating and ugly to look at - we sense they each have their own worlds, complete with complicated biological ecosystem to slot into, somewhere in the universe, just nowhere that we can imagine. The film seems to lose its focus too often, coming off as very wayward in tone as scenes of brutal violence involving villainous sword-play are intercut with sardonic putdowns from the protagonist. It also seemed as if there was a love story in an earlier draft, or cut altogether, involving a character who could not control the fire she could produce from the palms of her hands. The film ends up in deepest of snowy Russia and Hellboy being carted around in a box, but why bother hiding him if his identity is out by this point? And what do the Russian authorities think of an FBI entourage in their country anyway? Irrespective, "Hellboy" is a lot of good, harmless fun which fans of the genres of action, horror and science fiction should devour.
If ever there was a film that probably shouldn't work, it was one about a reformed demon, born during World War II and designed to help the Nazis take over the world, but now spends his time slaying monsters and saving the world instead. 'Hellboy' was a film made in 2004 and came just before the massive resurgence in comic book adaptations which, to this day, still dominates the Box Office with superhero movies. It's a strange kind of film that, although popular enough to generate (and equally good, in my opinion) sequel, it never got the third part to send off the character and give him the trilogy of films that us die-hard fans felt that he deserved. The reason I say it's 'strange' is because (like many, I guess) I never knew much about the film before watching it at the cinema. I didn't know it was based on a comic and merely saw the posters advertising the movie prior to its release. I knew that (the ever brilliant) Ron Perlman was in it and that was enough for me. The fact that much marketing material centred on a giant demon silhouette sporting a huge firearm was merely a bonus for an action/horror fan like myself. I watched it, really enjoyed it, and didn't think that much more of it. However, now I can see in these days of 'mega-franchises' why it didn't quite set the Box Office alight like it should. By its initial marketing, it looks like an outright horror film. However, it's actually a superhero film that borrows horror tropes, plus it was made before the superhero/MCU really took off. Nowadays, we're well used to rooting for our heroes after they've been granted some sort of special power enabling them to fight the forces of darkness, but most of them look like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, rather than a giant, ugly, red, semi-horned monster. I guess what I'm saying is that 'Hellboy' was destined to have a real 'niche audience.'However, if what I've already said intrigues you, I do recommend giving it a watch. First of all, it stars Ron Perlman as the titular anti-hero. Now, he's normally good in whatever he's in, but it's fair to say that he carries this film completely on his broad (red) shoulders. The other cast members, including John Hurt and Selma Blair, are good too, but it's Ron's show (although I should probably give a nod to Jeffrey Tambor as the long-suffering head of Hellboy's secret Government unit).There's not an awful lot to say about the plot. If you've seen one superhero movie (regardless of when it was released) then you can probably predict what will happen - evil megalomaniac wants to take over the world, hero has to put the brakes on that one. However, Hellboy does it slightly differently simply because of its general 'horror' look and feel. But - don't worry - it's not all Gothic darkness - there's plenty of top-notch action scenes, cheeky one-liners from our cigar-chomping, cat-petting red hero and special effects that look more on the 'practical' side, rather than an excessive use of CGI. It's worth mentioning the effects because Hellboy's make-up is particularly simple, yet flawless in bringing the character to life. He's pretty scary at the best of times and the only things more ugly are the beasties he's sent to despatch before they destroy the world (that clockwork assassin-Nazi still gives me the creeps!).Even though I stand by my belief that 'Hellboy' stands up today as it did when it was released, I know there's a reboot in the pipeline. I'll watch that too, simply because I like the way the film is done. However, I have my doubts that anyone can fill Ron's big red boots and whatever we'll get next (instead of the much desired third part in this franchise) will be nothing more than a studio trying to cash in on the superhero craze and going for an easy cash-grab.
Hellboy is a cool film. It has action, it has humour, it has heart, it has a truckload of kitties - now what's not to like!? It is a frankly a bad-ass movie, with a bad-ass song; Nick Cave's Red Right Hand, here performed by Pete Yorn. That scene alone is worth a couple of stars in the rating, that's how good it is. Hellboy is also a rather dark superhero film, featuring Nazi scientists where specially the gas mask clad Dr. Kroenen sticks out from the crowd as he suffers from severe body dysmorphic disorder. Another noteworthy beast is Sammael; the "Hound of Resurrection", kill one of these monsters and two shall rise. It is a funky bunch. And I have always found it peculiar that Hellboy 2 gets a higher rating here on IMDb. It is a much lighter story and honestly, If I want to watch disgruntled trolls, then I put on the 80s classic fairy-tale Labyrinth. In Hellboy 2 the grittiness that made the first movie is replaced by slapstick and creatures which seem aimed at a much younger audience. I rather watch Hellboy 1 twice in a row than bother with the sequel. H1 gets 8/10. H2 a mere 5/10 (and that's being quite generous.. it does feature a song by Eels).
The Nazis are up to their old occult tricks again, using magick to try and open a portal and unleash ancient gods upon the Earth. When the allied forces intervene, all the Nazis manage to release from their inter-dimensional gateway is a red skinned, demon-child, who grows up to become Hellboy, an indestructible, cigar-chomping hero fighting the forces of evil for the FBI.Guillermo Del Toro directed this adaptation of the Dark Horse comic-book, meaning that it's perfect for those who enjoy an excess of the following in their movies: the dark, clockwork creations, leather, rusty stuff, water, steam-punk, cogs (running the gamut from teeny-tiny to f***ing enormous), Nazis, CGI Lovecraftian monsters, magick, and jokey one-liners. Unfortunately, Del Toro seems so intent on getting the basic ingredients and aesthetic style for Hellboy precisely how he wants that he forgets all about telling a decent story: his film suffers from a leaden pace, a weak plot full of clichés (one of those story lines that feels like it's being made up on the fly), and zero chemistry between dull characters.On the plus side, the makeup used to transform Ron Perlman into Hellboy is impressive, and although the use of old school animatronic effects stick out like a sore thumb amidst all of the CGI, I enjoyed the resurrected Russian corpse with the noose around its neck. The rest is strictly for Del Toro fan-boys only.