Ron Perlman stars as the devilish hero with the Hand of Doom.
I needed a break. After feeling a headache and feeling dizzy at the office the whole day, I went out at quitting time and found myself making a beeline for Glorietta 4's cinemas. I had dinner at World Chicken and had myself the delicious grilled chicken with tuna pasta, mashed potatoes and garlic rice- an old favorite several years ago when I was in another agency. Sated and refreshed, I entered the theater for my first movie in many, many weeks.
Hellboy is based on the comic by Mike Mignola, a comic that I have known about for years but have never really read. The movie stars Ron Perlman (Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast TV series) as Hellboy, a young demon adopted by the brilliant and kind Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm (John Hurt) during World War II and now serving as a protector of mankind against supernatural dangers.
The movie shows (in a somewhat overlong sequence) Hellboy's origin and the beginning of the main threat- the plot of mystic Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) to free some tentacled, Lovecraftian demon gods from another dimension.
Fast forward to present day; Rasputin returns thanks to the efforts of his cronies: cold, immortal Aryan beauty Ilsa (Bridget Hodson) and the deadly clockwork blade-swinging zombie assassin Kroenen (Ladislav Beran). Naturally, they start setting their delayed plan into motion once again.
Meanwhile, Hellboy's a bit older now- 60 years older in human years but only a teenager in demon time. He's the primary agent of the B.P.R.D., the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, an MIB-like agency that battles things that "go bump in the night." Along with H.B. are Abe Sapien(voiced by David Hyde-Pierce), a telepathic amphibian creature, and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a young woman with pyrokinetic abilities. Joined by John Myers (Rupert Evans), a recently-transferred FBI agent, the freaks for freedom battle tentacled monsters from destroying the world.
Hellboy has a lot of good things going for it; perfect casting for the titular character (Ron Perlman IS Hellboy!), cool SFX and CG all around, lots of opportunities for body-slamming, wall-smashing action, creepy monsters and dastardly villains, and in the middle of it all, a hero with filed-off horns, a big stone hand and the heart and angst of a teenager.
However, the film lets down a bit with a somewhat dragging pace that had me just wishing that the movie would just hurry to the good parts I knew were there even though it was my first time to see it. Most of the action and fight scenes, while showing off cool effects, don't have the oomph I was expecting- this was especially apparent in scenes showing off the ultra-cool Kroenen. Hellboy's answer to Darth Maul dazzles with the expected martial-artsy swordplay, but the climactic fight with H.B. just seemed to lack impact. In fact, the whole endgame was kinda... blah. Not boring. Hell, no. Just... not as great as I thought it would be.
This is pretty much how it is with the whole movie; the support characters are interesting but don't register as much as Hellboy himself- support characters like Abe and Liz don't see too much action, and neither do lead villains Grigori or Ilsa- they just seem to drift in and out with little depth and purpose. The BPRD isn't too formidable as an agency- all the agents seem to be as perishable as your garden variety Star Trek 'red shirts'. So the movie seems to be really heavy with Hellboy versus tentacled demon action, and little else of much consequence. H.B. may have a Big Frickin' Gun and the Hand of Doom, but a better-paced script would have caused more impact.
In the end, I liked Hellboy, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would- perhaps I should have lowered my expectations. There's certainly a lot of room for improvement in a sequel, which is almost certain given the film's success at the box office. Anyway, maybe this latest comics-to-movie will grow on me; I'll most probably catch it again with the gang this weekend.
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