Those dang Nazis are always causing trouble. They’re digging up the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail in the Middle East. They’re plundering Odin’s gem stone from Norway. They’re infiltrating Hollywood high society to get their hands on a technologically superior rocket pack.
And then what did they do? They opened a portal to Hell in Scotland! No, this isn’t a reference to the Wolfenstein series of video games, but the opening of Hellboy. The portal is stable just long enough for two things to happen. The mastermind of this scheme, Rasputin, (yes, that Rasputin) gets dragged into Hell, and a little impish red creature with a weird stone hand comes into our world. The creature is named Hellboy by his new caretaker, Broom (John Hurt).
The smartest thing they did with this film was tell the present-day part of the story (after Hellboy has grown up to look surprisingly like Ron Perlman in a ton of makeup) through the eyes of a regular guy, John Myers (Rupert Evans), a kid who is recruited to join the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Broom is an old man now, and his team includes not just Hellboy, but Abe Sapiens (a blue fish-man, performed by Doug Jones and voiced by David Hyde-Pierce), and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a pyrokinetic that puts Drew Barrymore to shame.
Myers barely has a chance to understand his new colleagues’ existence before he’s dragged into their newest worry: a sort of demon-dog creature that someone released from an artifact in a museum, and which has the ability of resurrection, which makes killing it (them) super difficult.
These dogs are merely a distraction that the also resurrected Rasputin has created to distract the authorities while he plans to recreate his long ago Nazi-financed experiment to open a doorway to another reality, which is not strictly “Hell”, but merely a hellish dimension ruled by monstrous creatures that would love nothing better than to get a foothold in our universe. And, unfortunately, Hellboy is actually the key to it all!
This film has everything you want. It has humorous by-play, it has crazy fantasy action sequences, it has romance, loss, a supremely enjoyable hero and a mummified Nazi swordmaster who runs on clockworks inside his body! I was somewhat disappointed by the sequel, but my fondness for this film more than makes up for it. I still hope they round this out to a trilogy.
Ron Perlman was in Hellboy with John Hurt. John Hurt was in, well, so many awesome things, but I have chosen to focus on…