Release Date: April 2nd, 2004
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Run Time: 122 Minutes
I know I’m late to the party, but did you guys see the trailer for the Hellboy reboot? Because I did. I’ve watched it six fucking times. Simply because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
A new Hellboy movie. That looks fucking terrible!
I’ve been reading comic books for as long as I could remember. In my youth, I idolized all of the typical picks: Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and so on. And I still love them (except Superman, I think he’s kind of boring now) to this day. But there was one character that I fell in love with in my early teenage years that quickly earned it’s place in my top three favorites.
So today, to get the taste of that new trailer out of my mouth, I’m going back to the movie that made me fall in love with this character in the first place. Guillermo del Toro’s fantastic film adaptation simply called Hellboy. How does it hold up?
Mostly. Many aspects don’t hold up, and just as many still do to this day. Luckily, the positives are much stronger than the negatives.
Let’s start with the aspect that stomps on the upcoming reboot completely: the visuals. More specifically, the makeup and animatronic demons. Both Hellboy and Abe look fantastic in every way, with an insane attention to detail. Kroenen (the Nazi assassin dude), is downright haunting to look at without his suit and mask, and the way he moves only makes him more creepy than he already was!
Then there’s the Sammael animatronics. They are insanely well detailed, with several moving parts that make them feel both otherworldly and alive. Though the distinction between how they move in CGI and how the real prop moves is incredibly distinct and, at times, rather jarring.
Which leads to the next point: the visuals effects. Many of them hold up surprisingly well! For a movie made in 2004, the CGI is still pretty solid. While the leap between how the monsters and characters move in CG to how they move as real people/props is incredibly jarring, it’s never downright terrible.
With the exception of the giant squid god monster thing at the end. That thing looks pretty bad.
Though the visual effects range from great to aged, the cinematography and music are still top notch. There are tons of really impressive shots that perfectly communicate the emotions of the scene and the characters within it. A personal favorite of mine being the shot of Hellboy at his father’s funeral in the rain.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the actors. Each one is absolutely killing it in their performances! Ron Perlman is perfectly cast as Hellboy, John Hurt (Rest in Peace) fucking killed it as Trevor Bruttenholm, and Doug Jones is wonderful as Abe Sapien. Each member of the cast is giving it their all in every scene, which is made easier for them thanks to the solid and well written script.
What isn’t so solid is the story itself. The pacing is very wonky, moving very slowly at the beginning and rushing at a break neck pace at the end. One minute, Hellboy is fighting monsters in the subway. The next he’s stalking his would be girlfriend. Then, after his father’s death, the plot picks up speed far too quickly and rushes towards the ending.
Is the story itself good? Mostly. The villains are generic and un-relatable (seeing as they’re Nazis), with their only goal being “Summon demon gods and end world”. Why? Because they’re Nazis, shut up. Hellboy doesn’t really change in any meaningful ways by the end aside from him getting together with Liz, and Abe gets written out of the story before he can do anything meaningful to the plot.
Seriously, as much as I love him, why the hell was Abe in the movie if he wasn’t going to do anything?! Did del Toro just want to practice the fish man makeup for when he’d make The Shape of Water?
I should talk about that. That’s a good movie. But I’m getting distracted.
Despite all of Hellboy’s flaws, I just can’t bring myself to hate it. It’s a ton of fun to watch, it’s super well made in many areas, and it introduced me to one of my favorite comic book characters of all time. When that new reboot drops, you can bet that I’ll simply sit on my coach and re-watch the original two films all over again.