What do you get when you cross 'The X-files' with the 'X-men'? Comic creator Mike Mingola's 'Hellboy' of course. Who is Hellboy you ask? He's big and red, has horns and a tail and lives locked in a chamber underground in New Jersey. And yes, he's a good guy as well, fond of cats and member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence, a secret government funded organization working in sync with the FBI, investigating cases involving the occult and the mysterious.
Every super hero in the movies has an origin and Hellboy's (Ron Perlman) prologue is set in Scotland during World War II, where Nazi's secretly prepare to welcome the seven God's of chaos via a portal to their world. They are quickly vanquished by allied troops, who have on their side Professor 'Broom' (John Hurt), which is a good thing, because once the portal has been prevented from opening, a strange red colored boy is found with a rock like fist, and is adopted by the Professor only to grow up to be the titular hero. As a full bodied adult, 'Red'; his term of endearment used affectionately by many, seeks out monsters and ghouls and fights them out. He is also in love with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a former bureau member and present psychiatric inmate, doing time for engulfing uncontrollable blue flames when enraged. Helping create a dependable trio is the aquatic 'Abe' Sapien (physically played by Doug Jones, heard as the unmistakably sharp voice of David Hyde Pierce), a powerful psychic who spends his time underwater reading as many as four books a day, all at the same time.
The villains aren't nearly as interesting and perhaps that makes the loyalties of the audience too one sided. Still, they are reminiscent of pulp magazine creations and menacing and fun in a campy way. Led by Rasputin himself, who dies in the opening battle, but with assistance from the beyond, makes his return, they crave for initiating armageddon and using Hellboy as the conduit for the execution of their nefarious plans. They also hold sway over foul looking creatures known as hell hounds that randomly attack and disrupt the peacefulness of the city. It's during these parts that director Guillermo Del Toro is most comfortable. Hailing from a background in horror and specializing in monster movies, Del Toro is able to create visually exciting moments with the dazzling creature effects at his disposal. In the darkness of subways and underwater sewers, his direction pulsates with life and virility.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed the thrill of seeking adventure via the Indiana Jones series or the gleeful draw of grandiloquent science fiction will leave the theatres happy and entertained with this impressive coupling of the two. Perlman, a veteran himself of playing physically abnormal beings (his credits include becoming the Beast in the 'Beauty and the beast' TV series) makes the perfect irreverent, cigar chomping Hellboy. Equally praiseworthy is the controlled and crisp effort put in by Del Toro, relaxed in working with his forte. At one point in the film, John Hurt's character says, 'In the absence of light, darkness prevails', the same would hold equally true for the Del Toro in Hellboy. - Faizan Rashid