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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Ron Perlman
Doug Jones
Selma Blair
John Hurt.
Directors
Guillermo del Toro.
Screenwriters
Guillermo del Toro
Mike Mignola .
Running Time
122 minutes

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Hellboy
Del Toro brings the do-gooder demon to the screen.


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Plot
In 1945, a Nazi secret society summons a demon, but the ritual is disrupted and the creature taken by Professor Bruttenholm (Hurt). Now Hellboy (Perlman), the star employee of the US Bureau For Paranormal Research And Defence, must stop evil monk man Rasputin (Roden), who wants to immolate the world.


Review
Hellboy might not have the name-recognition factor of the Spider- or Batmen, but Guillermo del Toro brings the audience swiftly up to speed on artist-writer Mike Mignola's comic book anti-hero.

First, he treats us to an atmospheric World War II prologue. Then we meet the present-day Hellboy: a hulking action guy with red skin, sawn-off horns, a stone right hand and teenage jock attitude, coping with ickily-tentacled threats to the fabric of reality while nurturing a crush on a fellow agent, troubled pyrokinetic ("I hate the term 'firestarter'") Liz Sherman (Blair).

There are many characters and situations to introduce - also on hand is sensitive fish-man Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) - so del Toro brings in a new BPRD agent (Evans), developing a romantic triangle by having him warm to Liz. This thread is easily the flimsiest, but so much else is going on that it doesn't get in the way.

Del Toro turned down opportunities to make this with a bigger budget in return for putting a star in Hellboy's giant boots, but he was right to hold out for Ron Perlman, who's more used to jobbing as a character actor. Thanks to his gruff, blue-collar charisma, a character who could easily have been just a big, scarlet special effect works like gangbusters.

Meanwhile, Blair and Hurt (as the hero's adoptive pop) provide calming influences, but the best supporting turn comes from the always-welcome Jeffrey "Hey now!" Tambor, as the smarmy bureaucrat boss.

Del Toro's already been down the comic-adaptation route in Blade II (which now looks like a practice run), but Mignola's series is far more congenial material for cinematic treatment, with its blocky stone-and-iron architecture translating wonderfully to the screen. It's just a shame the promised reign of giant evil squid gods is too nebulous a threat to play as well as an old-fashioned fist-fest.

As usual, a human-shaped foe (here, Kroenen - a near-immortal Nazi assassin in stylised gas-mask, with a wind-up key in his heart and dust in his veins) is more interestingly hateful than the pile of CGI tentacles brought on for one last bout after the show is really over.


Verdict
It hasn't got the breakout potential of less eccentric comic book heroes, but fans will thank the dark squid gods for del Toro's admirable loyalty to the source material.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


Related Reviews
Books
Hellboy: The Art Of The Movie
 
Sounds
Hellboy
 

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hellboy
Empire Star Rating

“ A fantasy movie that can realy live up to expectations. The use of bionics in this movie realy showed up the CGI they used making it even better. The reason why this is better is bacause people rely on CGI to much and I find a realistic costume is scarier than some special effects being flung around. This film is amazingly brilliant. I give this movie a 4. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:15, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


“ A fantasy movie that can realy live up to expectations. The use of bionics in this movie realy showed up the CGI they used making it even better. The reason why this is better is bacause people rely on CGI to much and I find a realistic costume is scarier than some special effects being flung around. This film is amazingly brilliant. I give this movie a 4. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:15, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


hellboy

class ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ciltubrid at 17:00, 26 August 2010 | Report This Post


Hellboy

What a masterpiece of a film this is a brilliant family get together if your a fan of marvel or not it has brilliant actors, beautifully created monsters and a storyline which you want more of. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 17:17, 01 November 2009 | Report This Post


Move over spidey!

Del Toro's incredible ability to be so loyal to source material and yet be so entertaining maked for a stunning picture. Action, Drama, Suspense, Hellbuy has it all. Yeah, the Animation's not great, but in this case it doesn't matter. Great acting and Drama make this a must - see. AD ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by andy399 at 14:44, 24 July 2008 | Report This Post


Del Toro's Hellboy

Quirky, odd, endearing. Loved this movie. Smart, funny, and quirky. Del Toro delivers. It's nice to see Ron Perlman get the attention he deserves. The effects are amazing, the sets are cool, the acting is good, and the story is quick, funny, and light, with just a touch of real world emotion and story to carry it to a wider audience. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 03:20, 22 July 2008 | Report This Post


Wasn't as good as other Marvel adaptions.

Although all the characters were played very well and the fact they made a Hellboy film was a brilliant idea, when I first saw it, I was quite disappointed by it. The reason for this is that the plot wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. Apart from the plot, the costumes, the special effects/CGI and even the attitude of the characters like Hellboy himself was good. So overall this film is a good film and I would recomend people to see it but in my opinion not as good as other Marvel adaptio... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jon walker27 at 16:41, 25 April 2008 | Report This Post


Bring on Hellboy two!

This could've quite easily been a five star film if only for the stupid CGI tenacles-what's that about?! Apart from this I thought the film was brilliantly directed and the opening scenes are something to be remembered. A stunning performance by Pearlman although the cliched oneliners did start to grate about halfway through. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by t_bell at 15:48, 13 April 2008 | Report This Post


Great Film

This is a great film. Totally underrated. If you're a fan of GDT this is a great effort that souldn't be passed over. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by livewire at 09:09, 04 April 2008 | Report This Post


A Fairly Enjoyable Piece Of Stupidity

Never quite legendary, but fairly enjoyable cheese ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:35, 03 March 2008 | Report This Post


Found the movie a bit disapointing, and don't hate me, but I did'nt find it dark enough, also it was weird in some places, but I'm still going to see HellBoy The Golden Army. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 18:21, 21 February 2008 | Report This Post


Found the movie a bit disapointing, and don't hate me, but I did'nt find it dark enough, also it was weird in some places, but I'm still going to see HellBoy The Golden Army. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 18:21, 21 February 2008 | Report This Post


quite good

i liked this film the first few times i watched it but after a few times the novelty wears out ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewey T at 13:14, 15 February 2008 | Report This Post


enjoyable

very enjoyable movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Funktris at 17:05, 14 February 2008 | Report This Post


Kim Newman WRONG AGAIN.Oh! There is a suprise.

Kim Kim Kim, what are you doing? you were once a reviewer i looked up too but now im sad to say we must clash once more. Not only did you slag off John Carpenters brilliant IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. you now are having a go at DEL TORO'S underated gem of a movie. HELLBOY is a film for grown up comic book fans who grew up reading Lovecraft and Poe. Dark gothic lovecraftian smart funny Brilliant. ignore the empire review just watch it prepare to be blown away by lets face it one of the best comic b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Horrorguru at 21:33, 28 January 2008 | Report This Post


Hellboy

A giant red warrior created by Nazis, said Nazis, Rasputin! What more could you need? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by xmagic_dustx at 13:53, 22 December 2007 | Report This Post


Hellboy

A giant red warrior created by Nazis, said Nazis, Rasputin! What more could you need? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by xmagic_dustx at 13:53, 22 December 2007 | Report This Post


Hellboy

Always been a favourite comic of mine and its transition to the big screen was not a let down!, ron perlman is Hellboy in this, simple as! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hellboyx at 18:29, 18 February 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Hellboy

This film was good but not great. There were a lot of flaws but overall it was good fun. ... More

Posted by Isaac Newton at 00:49, 10 August 2006 | Report This Post


Hellboy is hotter than hell

I really liked this film and i have no idea why. it kinda indeers itself to you and is also quite funny... Well i thought so. I'm sure the 2nd part will be just as interesting and funny. a very enjoyabe 90 minutes! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryan1983 at 18:49, 15 April 2006 | Report This Post


Hellboy

A fantastic comic movie and just what it should be.A true spectacle. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by premierbaron at 16:27, 07 April 2006 | Report This Post


One of the most impressive superhero films released in the last few years. Kicks the crap outta Toby Maguire and his dead-pan winge of a superhero ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by daithi baru at 14:24, 19 January 2006 | Report This Post


typical

Fuck you people who bought this a few months ago, being a comic-book conversion, this was obviously going to be rereleased. I fucking HATE THAT!!!! Anyway, Perlman gives a bonafide comic aspect to a brilliantly captured Hellboy. What's this about a sequel? Really? Nooooo! My fuck!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ithomson82 at 01:18, 16 January 2006 | Report This Post


hellboy is class period

hellboy grows on you the more you watch it not impressed the first time around but second time has a charm then just keeps getting better roll on hellboy 2 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bondy76 at 14:45, 11 January 2006 | Report This Post


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