Film review by: Witney Seibold
Ron Perlman in the title role of “Hellboy” is the most brilliant stroke of casting since… I’ll say Crispin Glover as Willard. Perlman puts a spring into the step of this movie, playing the part of a foundling demon like a dejected twentysomething, occasionally pouting, tender with kittens, smitten with Selma Blair’s firestarter, but not above swinging a Lovecraftian beastie around his head by its tongue. Perhaps this film will garner Perlman with some long-due recognition. He has played beasts, vampires, terrorists, cartoon voices, and conservatives, all with a flair and joy rarely seen in such roles. He’s spent more time in the makeup chair than you have in any chair. He’s 54 this year, but Hellboy still feels 20. It’s very impressive.
The story of the film: During WWII, Prof. Broom (John Hurt) foiled Hitler’s plan to open a gateway to The Other Side where a bunch of evil space octopi hang out. In doing so, he magically imprisons Rasputin (who, yes, is still around and played by Karel Roden), but frees a demon baby, nicknamed Hellboy. Fast forward to the present, Rasputin is resurrected (again) by his ageless girlfriend (Biddy Hodson) and a zombie Nazi, so he can continue his evil plan. Luckily, the U.S. has a super-secret enclave of magic relics and otherworldly beings, of which Hellboy is a member, along with the now aged Prof. Broom, Abe, a psychic fishboy (Doug Jones), and Liz (Blair), a woman who can create fire. Along for the ride is a green agent named Myers (Rupert Evans).
This comicbook-based film is much better than most superhero flicks. Better than the good “Daredevil,” and shoulders above the disappointing “Spider-Man.” It’s even better than “Blade II,” director Guillermo del Toro’s last film. It has all the same situations as most genre films (last minute escapes, fight scenes a-plenty), but is constantly winking at us, smiling that it’s having as much fun as the audience. Also refreshing were the special effects which actually partly employed models and makeup and rubber beasts, rather than going completely CGI on us. The old-fashioned rubber monster always looked better to me than the computer animated one.