Saturday, 13 September 2014

Hellboy (2004)

I must confess that it was with some surprise that I realised I own a copy of Hellboy.  I wasn't a huge fan of the film when I saw it at the cinema - I thought it was okay, but nothing more - and I don't remember when or why I bought it.  I can only surmise that at some point, I saw it for a sufficiently cheap price that my "bargain DVD!" reflexes kicked in.

So did I like the movie any better on the re-watch?

Honestly, not really.

There are aspects of the film I like.  Ron Perlman is good in the lead role, for instance, and I like the way the film develops Hellboy's relationship with his father figure, Professor Bruttenholm.  I also like the romance the film introduces between Hellboy and Liz Sherman.  While the transformation of the normally confident-to-the-point-of-arrogance Hellboy into an insecure bundle of nerves around Liz is pretty much 'movie romance 101' it's well executed here thanks to the skill of the actors involved.

Alas, the core of the movie fails to live up to these ancillary elements.  The action sequences are generally well-staged, but they're also sometimes distractingly silly, and they form part of a central narrative that frankly (a) isn't all that interesting and (b) has an extremely weak ending.  If your bad guys spend the whole film trying to summon an unstoppable menace from beyond time and space, and succeed, then it's a bad idea to have said unstoppable menace get stopped in about five seconds flat.

Oh, did I just spoil the end of the movie?  Because the good guys do win, in case you thought there was any chance of any other outcome.

There are some good ideas in Hellboy, and some good performances, but to me it feels like the film is assembled wrong, and ultimately fails to be truly satisfying.  The problem recurs to an even greater extent in the sequel, which has been most excellently deconstructed by Peter M Ball.

Unless you're a fan of the original comics, there's not a whole lot of reason to track this one down.

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