About the time I was slowing down in comic book collecting, I remember seeing Hellboy from Dark Horse Comics. It earned some acclaim, but I never looked at it for some reason. I think I missed something.
I’m not a really big fan of comic book adaptations. Sure, I see all of them when they come to the theatre, but they’re a disappointment more often than not. Even when an adaptation is above average, they often try to cram too much, or too many characters into the film. X2 suffered horribly from this. League of Extraordinary Gentleman was flat and bland. The Hulk was too much talk and not enough “Hulk smash!” or perhaps not enough Peter David.
In any case, Hellboy finds a good balance, starting with an origin story that isn’t as ham-handed as most. That’s not to say it isn’t outlandish—they want you to know you’re watching a comic book, after all. The WWII-era Nazis are in full villain mode, with your occult-obsessed leader, your aryan-blonde siren-bitch and your inhumanly quirky henchman who, in this case, is a skinny Darth Vader without the James Earl Jones.
In their first attempt to destroy the world, Hellboy arrives in our universe as a little monkey-like tyke. Flash forward to the present day and he’s turned into Ron Perlman, who plays this antihero with dry humor, a vulnerable heart and a disregard for his own safety that only the nigh-invulnerable can appreciate.
There is a love story here, and other characters, but this film can be boiled down to a few elements: Perlman and his Hellboy, great breakneck SPFX, that creepy mask guy with the blades. Hellboy is worth the trip.Posted by James at April 8, 2004 4:12 AM