In the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike back, Ben Affleck tells Jay and Silent Bob that after the success of X-Men, the studios started optioning all the comic books they could get their hands on. This couldn't be more true, with a spate of comic book movies flooding theaters in the past few years. But now, with all the big dogs already done (See: Spider-Man, X-Men, The Hulk, Daredevil and many others) it seems that the studios are starting to scrape the bottom of the comic book barrel. Case in point, Hellboy, the newest comic book movie, that probably should've stayed on the shelf instead of hitting the silver screen.
Hellboy starts out in 1944 with the Nazi's attempting to open a wormhole to bring in some monsters to take out their enemies. Yeah. The Nazi's are opening wormholes. Anyway, the good guys close the wormhole, but not before a little demon kid gets through. He's discovered by the good guys, and raised in a top-secret government agency (MIB, anyone?). He is raised as a good monster to take down the bad monsters. But the bad guys from 60 years ago are back, trying to take over the world again. So Hellboy must stop them.
One of the good parts of the movie is that there are some really cool characters. Hellboy is a wonderful character, with some amazing strength and powers. The part where he stands in the middle of traffic and punches a car, sending it flying over him is just fabulous. And he looks just super-cool, and from the little I saw of the comic book, he looks nearly identical on the screen to what he looks like on the comic book. The Red One is portrayed wonderfully by Ron Perlman, who is best known as the Beast from TV's Beauty and the Beast. He is great as Hellboy, the behemoth with an attitude. He is quick with a smart-ass remark, or smashing through anything that needs to be smashed with his gigantic stone hand. And I couldn't find out who plays Kroenen (a.k.a. the guy from the trailer with the gas mask and the knives coming out of his trench coat), but he is just remarkable. Whoever he is, he's obviously a martial arts expert of some kind, and his fighting scenes are incredible. I just wish I knew who he was so I can commend him accurately. Look for a nice performance from Selma Blair, as Liz, who is basically another version of Drew Barrymore's Firestarter character. But Blair portrays Liz very nicely, as the human Zippo and Hellboy's "love interest".
But even with these cool characters, the story is just sub-par at best. It's basically a simple story that they tried to over-complicate, and it got really annoying. The script, written by director Guiellermo del Toro and based off Mike Mingolla's comic book, just tries to do too much. It's not too bad until the last, oh half-hour or so. It is just sloppy writing that doesn't really tie up loose ends, and it is incredibly annoying. They lay the groundwork for a nice, basic, simple story, but when we get towards the end, it kind of goes all over the place, without a whole lot of explanation. This is basically a story with a great lead character, but without a great story to back up the character. And there is practically no character development here with the bad guys. They basically just show up sporadically, and we know practically nothing about them, besides the fact that they're bad. The movie is a decent length, at an hour and 51 minutes, but it seems a lot longer because some parts just drag out, and it could've ended a lot neater. The end, with Hellboy's last stand against this monster, is just very anti-climatic and very unsatisfying. It's just a big build-up to nothing.
Director Guillermo del Toro is a pretty slick director, handling the action scenes very nicely. I just don't know why he let some parts drag on like he did. I liked his work in Blade II, but he wasn't working off his own script there, unlike here. It just seems like del Toro doesn't have a very good sense of story here. His direction is good, but he doesn't really have a good script to direct.
Hellboy is a movie about the bad things that can happen when people try to take over the world. With a character as cool as Hellboy, it would've been interesting to see what a different writer would've came up with for a story. There's one good thing, though, about this movie's failure. It seems that the comic-book genre has hit rock-bottom, with Hellboy. So there is no place to go but up, right?