Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup



Directed by Guillermo Del Toro.
Written by Guillermo Del Toro.  Based on the comic book by Mike Mignola.
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans and John Hurt.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  4/20/04


Damn, special effects are murdering the movies.

In "Hellboy", based on the Dark Horse graphic novel/comic book of the same name, we get the story about a devil spawn named Hellboy (Ron Perlman), who appears during World War II and is raised by an American professor (John Hurt) to fight against the paranormal for the FBI.  In the present day, some Nazi sicko named Rasputin (Karel Roden) has somehow come back from the dead to rouse up these nasty lizard-like things to try and take over the planet.  Hellboy, his fellow freak Abe (Doug Jones), a firestarter named Liz (Selma Blair) and some white guy named Myers (Rupert Evans) try to stop the Apocalypse before the Nazi and a couple of his evil friends can make it happen.

I loved the 10-minute intro to "Hellboy"; very tense, well-paced, gives you a premise for good sci-fi/horror/action on the way afterwards.  Too bad the rest of the film doesn't fly so high.  I had read the comic for the first time last fall; the girl I was dating at the time LOVES "Hellboy" and gave me a graphic novel to whet my appetite.  I'll admit, the art in the comic is very cool, but the thing about the character Hellboy--in both the comics and the movie--is that his sarcasm is very hit-or-miss, and in the movie, most of his one-liners don't even amuse you.  The other thing about this guy is that he is nearly indestructible, which makes the tension behind his consistently-imminent death all the more useless.  Seriously, Hellboy is tossed through walls, down shafts, eaten, blown up, and essentially run over by a subway train during various points in this movie and each time, he just kind of gets up, dusts himself off and gives you a quip like "Ow."

Exactly.  There's even a point where Myers turns to Liz and says something like "You've got to help [Hellboy]...[the lizards] are killing him!" and I was like "Have you been watching the movie??  He's been whoopin' dat ass all movie long!"

Del Toro, who directed both Perlman and Roden in "Blade II" two years ago, is in familiar territory; he's done the Devil ("The Devil's Backbone"), vampires in "Blade II" and now the devil's spawn in "Hellboy"; talk about needing a positive role model!  In "Hellboy", Del Toro sticks to the basics by giving us a pretty violent and bloody PG-13 movie, and it probably could have used more non-CGI action to make it more interesting.  But, as it is, Hellboy spends most of his time in this movie fighting this lizard creations, and those fight scenes are loud, louder and ridiculous in order.  This can become boring quickly, and the lack of a connection between audience and lead character just leaves you kind of empty.

When we are left without special effects, the work of the actors is decent; Perlman seems to be having a good time, and Evans is serviceable as the wide-eyed novice who strikes up an uneasy friendship with Hellboy as the film runs along.  The film is never very stale, since it is so loud and gives you one effects-laden sequence after another right to the end.  Speaking of which, this ending--like many other endings this year, not a good trend--blows, but at least it wasn't drawn out like last weekend's "Kill Bill Vol. II."

Well, at least I only paid $5 to see this dog.

Rating:  Rental


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09