The explosion of comic-to-film adaptations is certainly upon us. Now that CGI effects can do just about anything, it seems a grand scale comic adaptation appears on our screens every two months or so. I’ve just found out that Darren Aronofsky is set to direct Alan Moore’s masterpiece ‘The Watchmen’, and I’m both excited and terrified at the notion of such an incredible graphic novel being brought to the screen. *

But, back to the here and now: Hellboy. Del Toro lost a lot of fans with Blade 2, a film I quite enjoyed but many hated. I can appreciate that he has come a long way since Chronos, and to a certain extent seems to have been assimilated by the Hollywood machine. One thing that has stayed with Del Toro all these years, however, is Ron Perlman. Yes, that great character actor is here… and he’s big and red.

Perlman handles himself reasonably well considering the bulky costume, and I was surprised to discover that he could present emotion amidst all the prosthetics. His character is truly the most original aspect of a film that has its tentacles in everything – from Nazi mysticism to H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos.

Hellboy suffers from a terribly conceived opening sequence. The acting by some of the (admittedly unimportant) characters is laughable, and this is soon followed by a crappy title sequence that was a waste of both time and render farms. The are gaps in the plot that no one seems to care about, and the best moments are simply that – moments. It seemed that there was a lot cut out of this film – I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a good half hour lies on the chopping room floor. This is a problem with mainstream Hollywood hits because we’re left with little more than a montage. I’m not saying the films would be better if they included these cut scenes, but the scripts should simply be more concise to start with.

The script is a truly hit and miss affair, although mostly miss – there’s a lot of humour that simply doesn’t work here, and the action scenes are rarely exciting. The feature looks great, that’s for sure – Del Toro hasn’t lost his cinematic style (although why he keeps presenting us with 1:85:1 films, instead of the grander 2:35:1 is a mystery).

Overall the best part of Hellboy is Selma Blair. Her character is by far the most interesting and her performance one of the best superhero jobs I’ve seen in the long time. Since I’m unfamiliar with the comic, I’m not sure if she nailed the character to quite the same extent as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, but her performance is almost as compelling.

Wait for DVD.

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 1st January 1970
Hoopla Factor: 2.0 stars

Shaun of the Dead