Throwback Thursday – Hellboy (2004)

films, reviews, TBT

xohsnvy9gub1z30cdrikw9yygtw5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars As you already know, I’ve been trying to get ahead with posts. Tonight I went out for dinner for a friend’s birthday. Tomorrow night I’m going to see Adore Delano after work. I came home already to get an early-ish night feeling quite smug when I remembered. I needed to write this TBT post. I’m already a book review behind so it’s not as if I can even push it back until Friday. I’m devastated. I’ve not slept well the last few nights because I was so obsessed with finishing Daisy Jones & The Six. Sleep didn’t matter when I was so deep in that story. So, the idea of another night being up later than I meant to just fills me with sadness. Thankfully, I no longer work weekends or bank holidays. This means, for the first time in years, I have a four day Easter weekend. What am I doing? Is sleeping an adequate answer? I should probably do stuff so I don’t waste it but my bed and books are calling… but I guess they’re always calling. Just like now so I’d better not put this off any longer.

Before I went to see the new Hellboy film last week, I had a bit of a Guillermo Del Toro double feature. How could I possibly watch the new one if I hadn’t recently watched the old ones? And I don’t think I ever saw the second one. I don’t know why but it was never on my radar. But the 2004 Hellboy film is kind of iconic in its own way. Yes, it was never on the radar in the same way that Spider-Man or X-Men were back in the early 2000s. It’s a less well-known comic book title and character so it was never going to be a runaway success. However, the combination of Ron Perlman and Hellboy is one that the world should be grateful for. The two are basically inseparable, which would have made it even harder for David Harbour when he took over.

Going back to Del Toro’s Hellboy, especially now I’ve seen the new version, you get such a great sense of it being a comic book movie. The film is so atmospheric and dark in a way that really brings the original source to life. And the muted tones of the background only make our main man stand out all the more. David Harbour’s Hellboy was much less saturated whereas Perlman’s is letterbox red. This just goes to highlight how out of place he is. He’s been on Earth since World War II but, thanks to the way he ages, is basically a teenager. And Perlman plays him perfectly. He gives him a gruff and understandable charisma. He makes you care about him.

And his performance works perfectly alongside the work of John Hurt, as Hellboy’s adoptive father, and Selma Blair, as his love interest. These two give the film a sense of calm and heart. Hurt, in particular, brings a gentle and calming quality that was missing in the latest film. I love Ian McShane, obviously, but John Hurt is unbeatable. However, when it comes to the 2004 film, the supporting actor who really stands out is Jeffrey Tambor as their government boss. Considering this was before the whole “bullying his coworkers” revelation, I think it’s okay to still think that, right?

Watching Hellboy now was an interesting experience. It’s not necessarily stood the test of time but it does hold up. The film has a great feeling and aesthetic about it. Del Toro took the idea of a comic book and tried to replicate it as best he could. Yes, the film is kind of clumsy, I’m not a fan of the big romance/love triangle angle, and the CGI monster just doesn’t thrill me. This wasn’t made in the golden age of superhero movies and we’ve been super spoilt since then. But, for a 2004 film, Hellboy was better than we probably deserved. It’s funny, original, and looks amazing. And it just makes the newer film seem even more disappointing.

2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday – Hellboy (2004)

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