The story opens during the Second World War, with a group of Nazis trying to open a mysterious portal that will unleash some nasty monsters into the world. Led by Rasputin, the Russian Monk, the Nazis are very nearly successful, until John Hurt's character, Broom, helps a team of soldiers break up the paranormal party and close the portal.
If only it were that simple. Shortly afterwards, a small, bright red boy with an enormous arm is discovered nearby and Broom decides to rear him as his own son. The child is named Hellboy, and over the course of the next 60 years he blossoms into an extremely large, bright red demon, with an even larger arm.
By this time, Broom is an old man, and running the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, a division of the FBI that stops evil monsters such as the ones unleashed by the recently re-incarnated Rasputin. It seems that dying doesn't mean much to the characters in this film, especially the bad guys.
Hellboy is played by Ron Perlman, who is mostly known for his voice acting, especially in some well-known video games, but he turns in a very charismatic and entertaining performance in this film. It is also good to see a film that doesn't rely on computer graphics to render a fight scene, but instead lets real actors smack each other about. Some of the best computer graphics in this film are actually used in the background and are so subtle that you would hardly know they were computer generated at all.
Often comic book movies like this try too hard to be cool, especially by giving the main character cheesy lines (see The Chronicles Of Riddick), but this movie manages to be cool without any effort and the script is not tacky, but pretty well crafted.
The only downfall for Hellboy is the same one that many Comic Book adaptations suffer, namely the plot is not as good as it should be. It doesn't take a genius to see where the story is going from the very start, and the viewer is simply not emotionally invested in the characters. This means it is hard to care when someone gets killed or jilted by a lover and it is the reason that few comic book adaptations can match the Spider-Man films for box-office success and critical acclaim.
Apart from the usual plot-related flaws, though, this is a great movie for fans of the comic book and regular viewers alike. It’s very enjoyable and well worth watching, although with the Region One DVD available now, you may want to consider watching this one in the comfort of your own home.