Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"They say the devil gets all the best tunes and, on the strength of this latest comicbook adaptation, he gets all the good one-liners, too."

They say the devil gets all the best tunes and, on the strength of this latest comicbook adaptation, he gets all the good one-liners, too.

The Hellboy comic is less well known than Spidey, Batty and Catty but, rather than a weakness, this proves to be a strength. Ron Perlman is the demon in question but, just like Jessica Rabbit, he isn't all bad, he was "just drawn that way". Summoned by Rasputin - rumours of whose death have, obviously, been greatly exaggerated - on behalf of the Nazis, he first appears as a cute, if horny, little devil. Luckily for the world, the Americans are on hand to save the day - natch! - and the demon, whom they take under their wing.

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He is looked after by John Hurt as he grows to manhood and is brought up with good heart to thwart evil. He also comes complete with a plethora of personality quirks, including a love of cats, an imperviousness to flame and a penchant for cigars and witty riposte.

Guillermo del Toro knows how to make monsters and, with more than a nod to Ghostbusters and The Hound Of Zool, we're off on a very pleasant romp through the world of slime and sorcery. The plot doesn't really bear up to close consideration. Rasputin is back, along with a semi-mechanical assassin and an 'Allo 'Allo style girlfriend to try to bring about Armageddon. Meanwhile, Hellboy - Red, to his pals - is chasing down hellhounds with his pal Blue (a merman-style character, voiced perfectly by David Hyde Pearce) and a wet-behind-the-ears FBI sidekick (Rupert Evans), while trying to spark a relationship with a feisty firestarter (Selma Blair).

But, hey, as Red himself would probably say, who needs a plot, anyway? Never mind storylines, check out the quality of the characters, because they are some of the best I've ever seen in a comic book adaptation. They're so good, in fact, that the plot becomes a bit part player. Perlman simply IS Hellboy. He sets the film alight, while newcomer Evans plays the straight man perfectly. Del Toro goes back to those sewers he loves so much and, while they are on the clean side and the film reminiscent of so many others in the sci-fi genre, it would be hard to mention them all - the recipe list would definitely include Ghostbusters, Dark City, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and any Harryhausen creature feature - this is a good thing.

They say summer is going to come late this year and this summer blockbuster may be overdue, but it's very welcome nonetheless. Roll on the sequel.

Reviewed on: 24 Sep 2004
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A comic book hero with alien ancestry battles an undead Rasputin for the soul of man.
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Read more Hellboy reviews:

Jennie Kermode ***1/2
David Haviland *1/2

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writer: Guillermo del Toro, based on the comic books by Mike Mignola

Starring: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Doug Jones, Brian Steele

Year: 2004

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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