A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.
Sadly, "Hellboy" doesn't really have much of a plot, at least for half of its running time. Its first hour is Hellboy fighting squids and the mandatory character introductions, and its second hour feels pretty rushed as a result, having to introduce and resolve the bulk of the film's story. Thankfully, however, "Hellboy" avoids the comic book-to-film cliché of basing the first film of any given franchise on the 'superhero origin story' (not that Hellboy is much of a superhero, he's really just a smartass with a gun, except he's from hell), instead keeping all that to a short and dazzling pre-credits sequence. Other than the somewhat rushed and oddly-placed plot aspects, Del Toro's screenplay is fairly impressive, providing plenty of nods towards the comics and a good amount of wit and humor, also echoing the nature of Mike Mignola's work.
The most impressive aspects of "Hellboy" are Del Toro's direction and Guillermo Navarro's photography. Del Toro was always a superb director in terms of visuals, although I've had issues with several of his scripts. His most accomplished film to date in this regard would probably be the superb "The Devil's Backbone", but "Hellboy" shows that he has a surprising knack for directing action in a fluid manner without resorting to the cheap method of quick cutting. Also notable in terms of Del Toro's work here is how he subtly manages to pay homage to the memorable artwork of the comics, for example the overhead shots of Hellboy.
The CGI effects are quite good considering the film's relatively modest budget, and thankfully they don't form the basis for much of this film. The cast are all solid if not fantastic, although Ron Perlman is probably the best actor I can think of to play Hellboy. The final shot is beautiful and perfectly in keeping with the pulp poetry of not only this film but also the comics it is based on.
- Jun 20, 2008