> Volume 6 > Number 13


Guillermo del Toro

Ron Perlman
Rupert Evans
John Hurt
Selma Blair
Karel Roden
Jeffrey Tambor

Release: 2 Apr. 04



Based on a semi-popular spate of comics by Mike Mignola, Hellboy continues to prove that the abilities of the much richer D.C. and Marvel comic book empires are likely to make the only truly watchable film adaptations (with one exception, underground comic-come-movie Ghost World). Although Hellboy is as overdone as some comic fanboy may prefer, its charms are lost on anyone more likely to read all 576 pages of Crime and Punishment than the 67-page graphic novelization.

I donít necessarily mean to disregard the entire medium, but my absence of understanding of many of the film recreations of comics comes in large part from my ignorance to the source materialís merits. I trust that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell are great graphic novels, even if their cinematic counterparts are crap. Hellboy, though, never even feels like it might have a superior version sitting in some comic book haven in the outskirts of the city. This is a dull premise with dull characters Ė- nothing even remotely inventive seems to exist, which is opposite of Spider-Man and X-Men, two recent reevaluations of the cross-media event picture as blockbuster.

The historical contextualizing, I suppose, is whatís meant to linger with Hellboy, but nothing here is smarter or wittier than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the complexities of physics or biology seems a distant high school memory for the people involved. Why do these films have to be so recklessly made and haphazardly structured? Do they just think audiences are too stupid to care, or are they still enjoying the fact that films like these have a base audience that will keep coming back, long after Daredevil and The Hulk?

©2004, David Perry,, 26 March 2004