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Hellboy (2004)
Rated PG13

Starring: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, and Selma Blair

Rating:
**1/2
out of
*****

Hellboy, based on the Dark Horse comics by Mike Mignola, features a storyline that goes something like this: In 1944, the increasingly desperate Germans have decided to enlist black magic to help them win World War II. Grigori Rasputin (yes, that Rasputin) opens a gateway to "the other side" to bring the Seven Gods of Chaos over to help the German cause. An Allied patrol interrupts the ceremony but not before a small demon baby makes it to earth. The demon -- nicknamed Hellboy -- joins the Allied's battle against the misuse of the occult.

Flash forward to present-day and Hellboy (Ron Perlman) once again faces Rasputin (Karel Roden), who has been revived by his lover Ilsa (Bridget Hodson) and henchman Karl Ruprect Kroenen (Ladislav Beran). Rasputin has unleashed Sammael, a regenerative demon that continously resurrects itself, in an effort to lure Hellboy to a site that will allow him to finish the ceremony started in 1944.

Hellboy has a lot of potential but fails to deliver. The action sequences are mostly CGI-driven and, therefore, lack any real sense of urgency. I noticed a lot of similarities between the action in Hellboy and that of Blade II before I realized that both films were directed by Guillermo del Toro. Somehow, he's perfected the way to suck the actual action out of action scenes.

Not being a fan of the original comic book, the character of Hellboy was somewhat perplexing. I suppose that fans would enjoy the film a bit more (or less) depending on how accurate the adaptation from the character's original source material manages to be. I just found the movie's hero to be rather a mixed bag with his bellyaching over Liz (Selma Blair), somehow trying to be aloof and yet still being interested in spouting one-liners and cracking jokes.

The film's villain, Rasputin, is absent through most of the film. However, henchman Kroenen, who comes off as an undead Darth Maul, seems to present more problems for Hellboy and friends. Nothing like upstaging the boss, I guess. Sammael and his brethren are quite plentiful but come off as an annoyance for the characters and a time-waster for the audience.

Hellboy is a disappointment from the beginning to its rather anti-climactic end.

Trivia: Baby Hellboy, Sammael, Ivan the corpse, and Kroenen were all voiced by Guillermo del Toro. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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