Comic strip demon comes to life in colourful romp
OPENS SEPTEMBER 3, CERT 12A, 122 MINS
Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of writer/artist Mike Mignola’s celebrated comic strip opens at the close of WWII: Brit paranormal scientist Bruttenholm (John Hurt) prevents Hitler’s SS forces from successfully opening a gateway to hell and claims a baby demon which manages to make it through as his adopted son. Sixty years later, Bruttenholm runs the Bureau Of Paranormal Research And Defence, and the cigar-chomping Hellboy (Ron Perlman, replete with scarlet skin, cement arm, horns and tail) is his major weapon against the forces of evil.
The warped visual style Del Toro brought to offbeat, low-budget chillers like Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone perfectly complements Mignola’s baroque source visuals. Perlman is outstanding as the wise-cracking demon adventurer, and his effects-laden war against the foul armies of hell whips along merrily without pausing for breath. On the downside, the final act is rushed, and Del Toro’s self-penned script makes little sense. Over-the-top fun while it lasts, though.