Clash Of The Culinary Gods Full Movie Hellboy is a Decent Rental for Fans of Sci-Fi and Horror

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Hellboy is a Decent Rental for Fans of Sci-Fi and Horror

Comic book movies are all the rage these days. Ever since movies like X-Men, Blade and Spider-Man conquered the box office, Hollywood executives have been looking to get the latest product from the printed page. When done right, these films capture the wonder and emotion of their original material (which is saying a lot). When they fail, as they do in movies like Electra and The Incredible Hulk, they become an exercise in middle class — something the boys of Los Angeles know all too well.

But I don’t want to be too hard on Hollywood. It’s not exactly easy to adapt a comic book. First, it’s hard to pull off unless you have a king budget (think of a movie like Spider-Man done on the cheap). Then you need to find a director who can transfer comic book images to the big screen (Sam Raimi immediately comes to mind). Then there’s everything that happens in the form of talented actors and strong scripts, and that invisible “something” that always seems to be present in movies that really come together. All in all, not an easy task, but one that studios are more than happy to take on at this point. That is, until the super version of Ishtar came along.

The sequel to the Hollywood superhero is called Hellboy and was directed by Guillermo del Toro (best known for his work on The Devil’s Backbone and Blade II). Based on Mike Mignola’s comic book, the plot is as follows: Near the end of World War II, Nazi magicians led by Rasputin (Karel Roden) try to open a door to Hitler’s consciousness and bring out a strange god from his heart. space. They are thwarted by a group of American soldiers and a young magician named Trevor Bruttenholm. Rasputin is thrown against the wall and all is well with the world. Well, until they realized that something had come through the portal while it was open. That something happens to be a small demon, the size of a large stone hand and a long red tail. The soldiers take in the child-like creature (who likes Baby Ruth candy) and give him the moniker of Hellboy (Ron Perlman).

Fast forward 60 years. Bruttenholm (John Hurt) is the head of the Bureau of Paranormal Research, and the slowly aging Hellboy is their chief hunter. Other members include Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a pyrokinetic with mental problems, and Abe Sapien (played by Doug Jones and voiced by David Hyde-Pierce), a marine telepath. And the newest addition is John Myers (Rupert Evans), a young assistant chosen by the terminally ill Bruttenholm to replace him. Meanwhile, we find out that Rasputin has returned from the void, and he has terrible plans….plans that only Hellboy can help or hinder.

Before I go any further, let me say that Ron Perlman is the man. She has an uncanny ability to express her emotions through a combination of makeup and prosthetics, no doubt a skill she developed during her time on TV’s Beauty and the Beast. And playing larger-than-life characters is what he does best, as shown by iconic roles in Alien: Resurrection, City of Lost Children, and Blade II. With his big jaw and good looks, Perlman has been embraced by a generation that grew up watching Klingons, Sith Lords, and the like.

Perlman is very rare in Hellboy, who has the physicality and action to take down the big red demon. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get much support from his surroundings, especially Del Toro’s script.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful movie to watch, and the special effects are top notch. For example, consider the scene in which Hellboy sees a vision of a future Earth, complete with giant tentacles moving through space and smoldering cities. No doubt it would be enough to reduce even HP Lovecraft to tears.

But there is something missing between all the results and ideas. For a movie that deals with magic and alien gods, Hellboy, surprisingly, seems to have no soul. Most of these characters seem to be wandering around without a real direction in mind. Even the villains seem made of cardboard, and their evil plots lack real urgency or fear. If an alien god is about to cross into this world, don’t you think it must look a little scary? Del Toro had to watch John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness to see how it happened.

John Hurt, an excellent performer, is given little to do as Bruttenholm. Although his illness is only briefly described, it spoils the film for something that could have been much more interesting. No, Hurt is meant to look respectable, something an actor of his caliber can pull off in his sleep.

Rupert Evans and Selma Blair also suffer from bad writing. The romance between the two is teased, but quickly dismissed as the film’s finale approaches (another lost opportunity). Blair spends a lot of time in the film wandering around in the dark and beautiful, and one wonders why our protagonist would be smitten with her in the first place (unless, of course, because she is the only woman he knows). Evans (as John Myers) is a major player in the beginning of the film, but seems to take a backseat and almost disappear by the end. Granted, Hellboy is the focus of the film, but it’s a little odd to introduce a character so early on and drag him out as the scene unfolds. Even Jeffrey Tambor as Tom Manning seems to be getting more screen time.

But the villains are what keep Hellboy from rising above mediocrity. In a film like this, critics are very important. Heck, it’s a staple in every sports movie. Just look at a movie like Die Hard. Would John McClane have been seen as a hero if he didn’t have a commoner like Hans Gruber to compare him to?

As a central villain, Rasputin is very disappointing. He has potential for sure, but that potential is buried under a mountain of generic villain-speak. Instead, a watchmaker named Karl Ruprecht Kroenen seems to be the main villain, although the script lacks imagination and ends up pushing him into a routine battle with our hero. Even the final monster, which is supposed to be a major threat, is thrown away briefly (leaving the climax of the film feeling incomplete).

Hellboy is worth the rental price, if for no other reason than to see Perlman at work and admire his special effects. But don’t just think about Spider-Man’s depth or Blade’s magical powers. Like the mysterious villains found in his place, Hellboy talks a good game but ultimately has nothing to say.

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