There are a few things that I will go straight up fangirl over. Hellboy is one of them.
Josh spent much of the weekend hibernating against our awesome 20-degree weather, so I popped in the Hellboy movie while he sawed logs on the couch. First off, let me say this: I know it’s not the perfect movie. The graphic version of Seed of Destruction is superior in several ways (the greatest of which is the fact that Sammael doesn’t resurrect fifteen times and we have to watch them battle him over and over. And over.) But it is so much fun. The casting is perfect. No one but Ron Perlman could play Hellboy — playing a giant red demon-man toting a giant stone hand and covered in runic symbols would be impossible for anyone else to pull off. Doug Jones and (the uncredited) David Hyde Pierce are an impeccable Abe Sapian. And even my reading brain didn’t translate Professor Trevor Bruttenholm as well as John Hurt did.
The thing that makes this movie enjoyable for me is the execution of taking the world and story from paper to live action. Hellboy’s creator, Mike Mignola, worked very closely with del Toro to make the creatures and environments rich and believable. I think they do a beautiful job of it — the set of Bruttenholm’s study and the Russian graveyard are especially beautiful in my opinion, and Kroenen and Sapien really are very fantastic. With three discs, the Hellboy special edition is also one of the most extensive bonus features DVD I’ve ever encountered and offers HOURS of yummy documentation of what went into making the world come alive. (Rivaled in size and detail only by LOTR box sets — 7 discs. Yowza.)
Mignola’s Hellboy is a fascinating character. While I am not usually a huge fan of horror in other fiction, I love it in Mignola’s dark, boxy style and the humor he injects into the stories is a nice balance between the gore. I generally love the ‘refusal of destiny’ arc in stories anyway, and throwing in the impending apocalypse via the hero is right up my alley. Combine it with lots of dark folklore, disturbing occult conspiracies, heaven vs. hell, and the whole what makes a man thing — I am one happy camper.
Visually, Mignola’s art is more than drool-worthy. He has an unmistakable style: heavy shadows that can cover an entire page but still insinuate there is so much going on; angular, sometimes abbreviated shapes that lose nothing from their incomplete execution; character designs that challenge your base knowledge of mythological figures (like the stone, iron-maiden goddess Hecate, anyone?); action and framing that is clear and dramatic. And his paintings make me cry tears of jealous, reverential JOY.
“Look, Sammy, I’m not a very good shot… but the Samaritan here uses really big bullets.”