October 18, 2015 8:47 PM - Subscribe
A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.
"Hellboy" is one of those rare movies that's not only based on a comic book, but also feels like a comic book. It's vibrating with energy, and you can sense the zeal and joy in its making. Of course it's constructed of nonstop special effects, bizarre makeup and a preposterous story line, but it carries that baggage lightly; unlike some CGI movies that lumber from one set piece to another, this one skips lightheartedly through the action.
And in Ron Perlman, it has found an actor who is not just playing a superhero, but enjoying it; although he no doubt had to endure hours in makeup every day, he chomps his cigar, twitches his tail and battles his demons with something approaching glee. You can see an actor in the process of making an impossible character really work.
The movie, based on comics by Mike Mignola and directed by the Mexican-born horror master Guillermo del Toro ("Cronos," "Blade II"), opens with a scene involving Nazis, those most durable of comic book villains. In a desperate scheme late in World War II, they open a portal to the dark side and summon forth the Seven Gods of Chaos -- or almost do, before they are thwarted by U.S. soldiers and Prof. Bruttenholm (John Hurt), who is President Roosevelt's personal psychic adviser. Nothing slips through the portal except a little red baby with horns and a tail; he spits and hisses at the professor, who calms him with a Baby Ruth bar, cradles him in his arms and raises him to become mankind's chief warrior against the forces of hell.