Before watching this movie, I went through and did a full count of how many movies I’ve actually reviewed so far this year. My original goal was 100 superhero movies, and by my current count I’m up to 95. Plus, I’ve reviewed 7 “Almost Super” movies. So that means I’ve got five more movies to watch and review over the next few weeks to hit my goal. I’d like to pick something good for #100, I’ll likely put a poll up tomorrow. But for #96-99 I’ll be watching all the movies in the Hellboy franchise, both live action and both animated. I’ve enjoyed these movies ever since I first watched them, Ron Perlman was and still is the perfect casting choice for the big red guy. There’s so much in this movie to enjoy, from the practical effects to the amazing designs on everything, to Hellboy’s attitude, this movie is one of my favorites and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to watch it. In fact, the poster I’m using to headline this post was actually one of my first movie posters, and hung on my wall for years. Such a great looking poster.
If you’re not familiar with Hellboy, it’s got a lot of Nazis and a lot of Ctulu mythology in it. The main character is Hellboy who was brought into this world by Rasputin working for the Nazis. Professor Broom, head of the newly formed paranormal division of the US takes the demon monkey baby under his care. 60 years later and Hellboy is all grown up, though still looking in his early twenties or so. He works for the BPRD along with Abe Sapien, a fish guy played physically by Doug Jones and vocally by David Hyde Pierce. One important thing to know about Hellboy is that for him, he’s not doing a superhero’s duty, it’s just his job. And that sort of stoic attitude about everything he’s doing is a big part of the charm.
Of course, because this is an origin movie and sets up more or less an entire world for the audience, there had to be a new character introduced so the audience could hear the things explained to them both. And unfortunately, I thought that made agent John Meyers the weakest point of this movie. He’s set up to be Hellboy’s babysitter, and then he becomes Hellboy’s rival as he goes after Liz Sherman before finally becoming his ally and saving him at the end. But he never really feels like he has much of a personality compared to all the other great characters inhabiting the BPRD. Even agent Clay feels like he has more of a personality than Meyers. Which reminds me of the last movie I watched, Doctor Strange, where I had a problem with not caring about any of the side characters so it’s not a big deal if they get killed off. In this movie, I thought they gave just enough personality to Clay so that when he dies, it is a little bit of a blow.
The rest of the cast in this movie is quite perfect, from Selma Blair as the tortured firestarter Liz Sherman, to Jeffrey Tambor in a great role as the bureaucrat in charge of the operation, and John Hurt plays the perfect father figure for Hellboy as Professor Broom. The villains are also great choices, as the mysterious Rasputin who comes back from the brink of the universe, even though he doesn’t come back quite alone. He does a great job of always seeming to be in charge and in control of what’s going on, even when things don’t entirely go his way. I also really enjoy the concept and the look of the clockwork-ish Nazi assassin Kroenen, with his spinning blades, wind up chest, and sand for blood. He just has a great look to him, and he’s super freaky looking during the one scene where he doesn’t have any of his armor on. I actually think it would have been better for his character if they hadn’t explained his condition as much, I thought it was a more mysterious situation to be some sort of clockwork Nazi, rather than someone with surgical addiction, maybe it’s just me.
The effects in this movie hold up quite well for its time, and I think that’s partly due to the great mix of practical effects and CGI. The Samael creature suits used in this movie look amazing, the only downside is that I thought the suits were overused in the fight in the subway. Compared to a lot of the more CGI-heavy fight scenes, the subway fight looked too much like a guy in a rubber suit, albeit a fantastic looking rubber suit. The makeup for Hellboy and Abe Sapien were also amazing. But I also enjoyed seeing the hints of the Cthulhu level creatures out in the outer reaches of space, it’s a rich mythology that I’m not too familiar with, but it has a large fanbase and I’m surprised there hasn’t been more movies to plumb the depths of them yet.
There’s a lot to like in this movie, somehow having a very New York, down to Earth regular joe who happens to be a giant demon who saws off his horns works out to be an interesting character. There’s a great mix of action and humor, I especially loved the scenes with the dead Russian guy, and there’s no denying that Guillermo Del Toro has a flair for the visual with some really great stuff only overshadowed by the fact that I’ve already watched the sequel before writing this review, which you can get the chance to read in hopefully a few days. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.