Sunday, June 03, 2007


The stylish direction of Guillermo del Toro makes this colorful adaptation of Mike Mignola's graphic novel a lot more entertaining than it might have been in less capable hands. The principal character, after all, isn't just some costumed do-gooder; he's a supernatural being whose origin is considerably less benign than that of the average comic-book crime fighter. Hellboy (portrayed by Ron Perlman), a genuine spawn of the netherworld, is found in the waning days of World War II by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt), who also looks after other mutants kept safe from prying eyes in a secret compound. When the reincarnated Grigori Rasputin -- yes, that Rasputin -- unleashes long-suppressed demonic forces against America, the FBI enlists Hellboy's aid in combating the inhuman creatures doing the evil mesmerist's bidding. Perlman, having played bestial characters before, brings much-needed warmth and humor to Hellboy. He's well supported by Hurt and Selm Blair, properly enigmatic and more than a little wistful as Liz Sherman, whose pyro-kinetic abilities make her dangerous to be around. Doug Jones, totally unrecognizable in makeup and prosthetics, turns in a fine performance as Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), the half-man/half-fish who aids Hellboy when the FBI comes calling. Very much like the comic books it brings to life, Hellboy pulsates with energy and teems with dynamic visual effects. While the film has wry, humorous moments, it never condescends to its audience. That's more than can be said for many comic-book movies; and for that, del Toro deserves considerable credit. (all movie guide)

Just for fun, here are a few other comments concerning this film:

Washington Post

Del Toro moves his story along with unrelenting energy and wit while introducing the opposing parties with admirable efficiency. Richard Harrington

Chicago Sun-Times

One of those rare movies that's not only based on a comic book, but also feels like a comic book. It's vibrating with energy, and you can sense the zeal and joy in its making. Roger Ebert

Boston Globe

So forget about taking anyone under 12. But if you want to see what a benign demon looks like when he's eating nachos and unwinding to Al Green, this is the movie for you. Ty Burr


Guillermo del Toro is in a class with Peter Jackson as a fan-boy who gets it--a brilliant filmmaker who has a kind of metabolic connection to horror and sci-fi that helps him transform secondhand genre material into something deep and nourishing. David Edelstein


Hellboy is the first comic book based movie that I've seen in which I had never actually read one of the comics. I was familiar with the comic and it's creator, Mike Mignola, I had simply never gotten around to reading one. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the movie and any prior knowledge of the story was unnecessary since all of the character's origins and motivations are explained perfectly.

Guillermo del Toro's direction of the film is nothing short of spectacular - every scene is realistically represented down to the most minute detail and is showcased with his flair for depth and color. By the way, del Toro is also the recent writer and director of Pan's Labyrinth which received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film along with five other nominations - winning in the categories of Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup.

Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention Ron Perlman's performance. He is Hellboy. Perlman was able to bring an amazing sense of style, determination and casual wit to a character that, for the most part, is made up entirely of muscles and makeup. Not an easy task but Perlman pulls off one of the best performances of his career.

For me, movies are all about being transported to a different place and I usually base a large part of my like or dislike on how adequately a film achieves that goal - be it science fiction, action or drama. The more I feel like a witness, or a fly on the wall, the more I like the movie. Hellboy truly takes you along for the ride and I know there are plenty of people who have some unexplainable aversion to comic books (the horror!) and the movies they produce but, for once, expand your mind and imagination, pretend ever so briefly that possibilities really are limitless and give in to that sense of wonder from your childhood that still resides as a flicker somewhere deep inside of you and watch this movie. You might be surprised at what your narrow point of view is capable of accommodating. However, that's just my opinion.

By the way, there are two versions of the movie - the theatrical release and the director's cut - both are very good but if you haven't seen it, I would recommend renting either version but buying the director's cut which is longer and also includes two additional discs worth of material including extensive interviews and commentaries with the cast. Also, should you have the capabilities of high definition, Hellboy comes out on blu-ray disc June 7. Yes, I've already ordered mine.


Carson said...

Wish you had told me that you were running a blog. I went through all the archives. Excellent site!

John Taylor said...

I really didn't think it was worth mentioning.
Thanks for the good word - much appreciated.

Chris said...

Hey John, I want to see a movie. I really do. I'm pretty stressed as work has just gotten insane. Trying not to work the crazy hours but still can't seem to get out the door before 8PM.

I love your enthusiasm for film, I have that as well. Just can't seem to find the time yet. But July is looking promising, I hope.

John Taylor said...

hi Chris-
I hope you find the time - believe me, I know it's not easy. There are Saturday mornings that I could easily sleep for another couple of hours but, instead, I make myself get up because I know I'll have a good time going to a movie that I want to see. I only go to the theater for movies that I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy to some extent - the ones that I'm unsure of get relegated to a DVD viewing - which I'm constantly behind on. At last count, I have 23 disc that I've yet to watch.

The positive side of that is that I've always got something to look forward to. I'm such a geek.

My mom always said that if you want to do something, you can't 'find' time, you need to 'make' time. My problem is that I have too many things that I like to do so I have trouble deciding which to do first.

I hope that you will soon be able to make the time you need and can enjoy a good movie (or twelve!!) and I hope July proves to be the 'baby bear's porridge' for you.