Sunday Matinee: Hellboy

Last weekend was the Sask Expo, Saskatoon’s comic book convention and two of the media guests this year were Ron Perlman and Doug Jones who both starred in the 2004 movie Hellboy.

Visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed the adaptation of Mike Mignola’s excellent comic book series and I am a huge fan of the comics. Mignola’s comic has style, kind a dark gothic gritty look combined with a witty adventurous storytelling look at monstrous horror. Mignola tends to use old folk tales for the basis of his stories and the whole thing works beautifully. Del Toro tries to recapture a bit of that feeling but also incorporates his own take creating something that comes close to the source material.

Ron Perlman stars as Hellboy a being who was found in WWII by the Americans during an evil Nazi experiment. Hellboy works for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) who along with fellow agents Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) – a amphibious humanoid and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) – a fire starter, goes out and fights supernatural creatures threatening the world. The evil Rasputin (Karel Roden) who original summoned Hellboy to this world has returned and is trying to bring about the end of the world.

The movie is pretty good but there is a couple of minor things that del Toro changed from the comic that bug me and really shouldn’t. The first thing is that Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are top secret and the public doesn’t know about their existence. In the comics the world knows about Hellboy and monsters and such and just get on with their lives. Nobody cares that there is a big red guy and a blue fish guy eating in their restaurant. Del Toro makes this secret thing a huge plot in both this film and the sequel. It really shouldn’t bug me but it does. The other major plot change is that del Toro added a romance between Liz and Hellboy that again never ever happened in the comics. Hollywood allows has to add a romance it seems. And finally Abe is quite different than in the comics. In the comics Abe is just a fish guy with a gun. Here Abe is more awkward and suddenly has the ability to sense things. I don’t know why but it’s there. Still it’s a good movie.

A sequel was made in 2008 and I actually like it better than the first movie. This time out the prince of elves has come to Earth looking for pieces to a crown that when completed will control a magical army of indestructible mechanical robots. A of the pieces of the crown is unknowingly auctioned off and Hellboy and the team try to find out what’s going on. Along the way Hellboy manages to out himself to the public and a new member joins the team – Johann Krauss, a psychic medium who lost his physical body and ecotplasmic form uses a suit to move around. Del Toro ups the magical monster quota and there are so many fantastic looking creatures in the film it’s hard to keep track. A great film from del Toro and company.