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Hellboy - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

ONE of next year's exciting prospects looks to be Hellboy, a surreal mix of detective story, pulp horror and cult comic.

The film centres around the Satan-spawned Hellboy of the title, who has been stolen and reformed into a Force for Good, by the Americans, with a view to righting the wrongs of the world.

Ron Perlman (of Alien: Resurrection fame) stars as the red-faced crime-fighter in question, while Selma Blair joins him as a flame-throwing pyrokinetic agent.

Their foe take the form of so-called Mecha-Nazis.

The film is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, the expert behind Blade 2 (seen by many as a vast improvement on the original) and cult Mexican horror, The Devil's Backbone, and is already amassing a cult following online, where the director posts something new virtually every day (we are told).

When asked about the project, the director has stated, in interview, that he believes Hellboy will take the place of Blade 2 'as the more pulpish comic-book oriented type of fantasy', and insists he would not have done it at all, had he not been able to cast Perlman in the central role.

Describing Perlman as one of 'the last tough actors, 'like Lee Marvin', he states that the star's best role came in Sean Connery's In The Name of the Rose, as well as mentioning his sarcastic, hard-man with a heart of gold turn in Alien: Resurrection.

Perlman, for his part, remains tremendously grateful for the opportunity to headline the film, stating in an interview with MTV Movies that Guillermo had let him read the first draft four years ago, when he revealed that it would be 'his dream' to do it together.

"It's very difficult to get a movie as big as this [made] with a guy who's not a bankable movie star," he acknowledged.

"I'm not ashamed to say I've never been a bankable movie star. I'm just a character actor.

"And that's probably one of the most amazing aspects of this - that [del Toro] was able to pull it off. It's a huge gamble for a studio to raise the amount of money that you need to do a picture like this without having, you know, a Tom Cruise."

The movie is due for a US release in April 2004, with a UK date to follow on April 16.

 

US reaction

THE comic book genre has seldom seemed healthier, what with the success of Spider-Man, its forthcoming sequel, and the likes of the X-Men franchise.

The latest, Hellboy, from Blade 2 director, Guillermo del Toro, has opened to critical acclaim in America (on Friday, April 2).

Ron Perlman stars as the eponymous hero, who, according to the publicity, was born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth to perpetrate evil, but who was rescued from sinister forces by the benevolent Professor Broom, who raised him to be a hero.

Leading the acclaim is the New York Times, which wrote that ‘Guillermo del Toro lets loose with a vaudevillian rambunctiousness that makes his adaptation of the Hellboy comic book series daffy, loose and lovable’.

While Rolling Stone wrote that ‘Hellboy is on fire with scares and laughs and del Toro's visionary dazzle’.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, wrote: "Faithful to its pulp roots and lacking the cumbersome self-seriousness of many a comic-book adaptation, Hellboy is, well, hellacious good fun."

Equally note-worthy are the comments from the San Jose Mercury News, which opined that it is ‘the most successful transformation from pulp page to big screen since Tim Burton's Batman in 1989’.

While Hollywood Reporter felt that ‘the sheer ingenuity and obvious joy del Toro puts into the major action sequences lifts the movie out of the mundane’.

Entertainment Weekly’s critic wrote that ‘I enjoyed myself for most of Hellboy, yet the movie, a highly derivative compendium of geek dreams, is little more than a well-executed contraption’.

The Los Angeles Times, however, referred to it as more ‘a triumph of design over meaning’, while less positive was USA Today, which felt that it was ‘a fiery action picture destined to please fans of other comics-turned-adventure flicks such as X-Men. The rest of us will find ourselves left out in the cold’.

Slant Magazine, however, confessed that ‘I’ve never laid an eye on Mignola’s comic, but I know a good del Toro film when I see it’.

And Newsday wrote that it is ‘a fully formed, funny, smart and briskly entertaining horror show’.

But the Chicago Tribune felt that ‘the movie feels at odds with itself, embracing the comics' idiosyncratic creations without an idiosyncratic worldview’.

The best summary of it, however, seems to come from Supercala.com, which concluded that ‘Ron Perlman as Hellboy might be the best casting ever of a superhero...he's cooler than the movie is’.

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