Review: Hellboy

Verdict: If you like comic book movies, you’ll probably like it. If not, meh.

Spoilers ahead, particular the ending. I talk about it because I don’t like it too much.

You’ve probably heard of Hellboy, in the sense that they seem to advertise it incessantly on TV. Not really following comic books at all, I have no idea how well-known Hellboy the comic is; I certainly had never heard of it. The movie comes in the post-Spiderman “hey, one comic book adaptation did well, so let’s make movies out of a bunch of comic books too” series. Nobody runs a concept into the ground like Hollywood can.

Anyway. Hellboy the movie. It starts in World War II, with American forces landing on a Scottish island where Nazis seem to be trying to open a portal to hell. This introduces the villains: Rasputin (yes, that Rasputin; it’s not explained why he’s helping the Nazis, let alone why he’s still alive), some Nazi female who’s always with him, and a bad-ass-looking masked Nazi assassin who rather likes knives. The gate opens, a fight ensues, Rasputin gets killed, and we then have Hellboy’s origin scene: he, at this time little more than a baby demon, apparently wandered through the portal while everybody was busy trying to kill each other.

Naturally, you can’t kill off the main villain before the title sequence, so the Nazi female whose name I can’t remember and who hasn’t aged a day despite it now being the present (the moral is, Nazis don’t age), brings him back from the dead in some occult ritual. So now not only is he Rasputin the Nazi collaborator, but Rasputin the Nazi collaborator returned from the dead.

So then we get the heroes: the title character Hellboy who you’ve already seen in the previews; Abe, a Zora-looking smart psychic half-man, half-fish; and Liz, a girl with pyrokinetic (is that a word?) powers staying at a mental hospital.

OK, enough talking about the plot. How is it as a movie? Well, it’s definitely a comic book movie, and never really rises above that. It’s a fairly decent comic book movie, granted, but a comic book movie nonetheless. Hellboy himself is portrayed pretty well and generally comes of as a fleshed-out character.

One of the main problems with the movie is the villains. For one thing, they don’t seem to have any motive besides being evil. It’s never explained just why Rasputin wants to destroy the world. Duh, he’s evil, I guess. The monster he unleashes, an egg-laying hellhound who resurrects twice every time he’s killed, gets repetitive after a while. Oh, they’re fighting it. Again. Or another one that hatched. Or one that appeared after killing a different one. The villains also always seem to be around the corner, no matter where the heroes happen to be. Hey, we fought Nazi assassin guy in America, then went to the other side of the planet, and now he’s here too. Because, you know, he’s evil.

The plot also starts to get weak and confused as the end approaches, too. Nazi assassin dies and, apparently, comes back to life. Because he’s partly mechanical, or something. The writers resort to digging out a deus ex machina to get the heroes to where, naturally, the villains are waiting to destroy the planet. And there’s some ill-explained reason why Hellboy turns out to be the key to their plan, which wasn’t mentioned at all leading up to the encounter. And then Rasputin, after Hellboy doesn’t go along with his plan, turns into a big tentacle demon, for some reason. OK, yeah. (Yes, for those of you who have seen the movie, the puns in this paragraph are intentional.)

So, in the final analysis, Hellboy isn’t without its entertainment value, but it’s not all that great of a movie. Unless you’re into comic book movies, you’re probably better off waiting for it to come out on video. It’s better than League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was, at least.

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