Based off of the popular Dark Horse Comics’, HellBoy tells the tale of a lost child, a found family and a lot of monsters.
I had originally seen HellBoy when I was quite young, it probably wasn’t the best introduction to a violent and crass franchise, but I still ate that stuff up as a kid.
I’ve also seen a lot of comic book movies in the past, no doubt I’m a big fan of them. But my favourites are the ones that don’t typically fall into the categories of Marvel and DC. I like independent brands or the companies that are only known for one really famous comic.
Movies like Kick Ass and, although not a small indie franchise by any means, Watchmen. These films are allowed to be more free and creative than your typical Captain America movie, not that there's anything wrong with following a formula.
But creativity is where movies like HellBoy shine, they don’t feel the need to make everything gritty and realistic, they allow themselves to be fun and silly. The costumes and character designs are enough of a point to go off.
Although there were a few alterations to the designs, I will admit, they still encompass the character and don’t shy away from how strange the original comic designs are.
For a quick plot summary of the first HellBoy movie, because at some point I will be delving deep into the sequel, the movie gives us a retelling of HellBoy’s origins during the second world war. We’re then whisked away into the present day, aka 2004, where creatures and humans work together in secret.
Besides HellBoy, we’re treated to a few more characters in this movie who possess powers like my personal favourite character, Abe Sapian.
The movie’s villain is essentially the Nazis, along with their goey leader who seeks revenge 70 years later.
One thing I truly must praise about this movie is its action scenes, the whole film is jam-packed with them. Not only do they show some great choreography skills but they also enhance the characters. You get to see HellBoy’s cockiness when it comes to his fighting ability, he’s the biggest in the room and therefore he’s more careless and takes more risks when fighting.
Combat this with Abe who relies more on his brains than his brawn, but don’t take him as a fool because once he’s in the water he is a force to be reckoned with. Another character that I didn’t really mention is Liz Sherman, HellBoy’s love interest who has pyrokinesis. Unlike Abe and HellBoy, Liz knows she’s powerful but constantly tries to contain it.
The subway fight sequence is possibly the best in the entire movie.
I also want to briefly talk about the costumes in this movie. Like I mentioned before, the movie doesn’t shy away from making them cartoony-looking. I love the deep red of HellBoy’s skin, along with outfits he sports in the comics; it shows the crew not only knew the source material but were fans of it themselves.
I love the bright blues of Abe’s skin and tank, both characters juxtaposed perfectly against the other agents all dressed in black or in suits.
And just a huge applause of appreciation to Ron Perlman and Doug Jones for wearing those costumes for who knows how long, I for one could not have the skill to just sit there while they applied it, nevermind act in it.
Now although I had seen this movie before, I completely forgot how funny it was. A few jokes felt hit or miss and some were clearly a ‘you had to have been there’, but overall, the movie had me laughing more often than not.
Some major gripes I did have with the movie though were things that plague a lot of comic book movies and that’s pace. Some things either felt rushed or dragged on too much, there weren’t many instances in the movie where this was a blaring problem but it was there.
I also feel as though the villains weren’t really given enough screen-time, yes I’m told who they are and what they want, but for a lot of the movie I’m not invested in them; I don’t care enough about them.
Which is probably a good thing when you remember they’re Nazis.
But my point is this, if you want to make a good superhero movie then both sides have to be compelling. I understand this movie isn’t like the big blockbusters you get now, yet I still can’t think of a reason as to why we couldn’t learn a little bit more about the villains.
Overall, HellBoy is a good step in the right direction for this franchise. Although I am yet to see the 2019 reboot starring David Harbour, I feel as though it will lack the chemistry between the actors and the silly underlying tones that the 2004 movie had.
HellBoy gets 3 out of 5 cats from me.