Well, I’ve only read a handful of issues of the comic over the years, but I could tell Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy looks and feels just about perfect. You can’t really ask for a better Big Red than Ron Perlman here, and John Hurt always brings class to the equation. The film’s got Rasputin, both post-dead Nazi ninjas and evil blonde Nazi temptresses (a.k.a Darth Maul and Indy 3‘s Ilsa Schneider respectively), and even heavy shades of the Cthulhu mythos. What more should a fanboy desire?
And yet, perhaps it was due to a post-orals energy slump, but I found the movie kinda slow and uninvolving. The curse of any first comic movie is the origin stuff (although in Spiderman at least, that turned out to be the best part of the film), and here I thought all of the backstory and character introductions took just a little too long. Then we have Hellboy beating up Sammael the Hellhound over and over again for an hour, followed by a rather cheesy and nonsensical third act in Russia (with heavy borrowing from the Temple of Doom this time, and particularly when Agent Myers has his rosary moment…soon Kali Ma will rule the world!) I probably enjoyed Hellboy most when it was pushing the unfathomable evils of Lovecraft angle, but tuned out slightly whenever it was time to punch out another hellhound, which, sadly, was most of the movie.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on Hellboy. The acting was good all around, and, really, it’s undoubtedly going to be better than 4 out of 5 comic movies this year (Case in point: The Punisher.) Still, while I wasn’t expecting as lyrical as The Devil’s Backbone, I was expecting a popcorn film as fun as Blade II…and in that category, I thought Hellboy was somewhat wanting. Then again, it took a second go for Bryan Singer to get the X-Men popping, so perhaps Del Toro can cut to the chase in a Hellboy 2.