What’s big, red and will kill you if it falls out of a tree? A firetruck. Or alternatively Hellboy, the Dark Horse Comics anti-superhero who made his movie debut in 2004.
Ron Perlman is authoritative and awesome as the gun-toting, wise-cracking, chigar-chomping title character. Rescued from the gates of hell by Allied WWII soldiers, Hellboy is now the FBI’s secret weapon. He files down his horns in order to better blend in (like George Osborne), never mind his red skin, enormous build and giant stone hand. He pre-empts Age of Ultron by about a decade, by making the Avengers look boring. Perlman is accompanied by John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor and David Hyde Pierce as an amphibious psychic with the face of Kif from Futurama and the voice of Niles from Frasier. The thing is (other than a rock monster from a different superhero franchise), Hellboy towers over everyone else in every way. The other characters are all weak by comparison, particularly the movie’s villain (Karel Roden) and love interest (Selma Blair). As for the plot, hell only knows. It’s something to do with Rasputin and Nazis.
Fortunately, the great Guillermo del Toro is in the director’s chair and the film flourishes under his stylish vision. The fantastical mecha design is brilliantly constructed, all gears and cogs and fire. He’s the perfect choice for Hellboy (as he was for The Hobbit, but whatever), delivering exciting action sequences and a strong visual sensibility. It’s like X-Men as directed by Guillermo del Toro. Marco Beltrami’s score is nicely complimented by music from the likes of Tom Waits and Al Green. There’s a cover of Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand performed by Pete Yorn (or more accurately Pete Yawn), while the original features heavily in Scream. Both movies are scored by Marco Beltrami. Spooky…
For all its faults, Hellboy is still a hell of a time. Its two (not so) secret weapons are Ron Perlman and Guillermo del Toro, who give the film power and personality. It’s funny, surreal and packs a punch like a giant stone fist.