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Comic book heroes seem to come in three varieties: caped, masked or colored. Neither masked nor caped, the muscle-bound, red-skinned Hellboy (Ron Perlman) follows in the fashion of the vibrantly green Incredible Hulk. Based on the Dark Horse Comic series, Hellboy dresses in a leather trench coat and boots, and keeps his crimson horns trimmed close to his head with an electric sander.
His story began during the final months of the Nazi rule when the unkillable Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) and a group of secret Russian agents conjured up a portal to another sphere. Through the gap, they brought the tiny alien to Earth. Known as Hellboy, his mission was to be the forerunner of the world's final destruction. Instead the rosy infant was intercepted by American soldiers and given to Professor Broom (John Hurt) of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
Now grown and working as an undercover operative for the FBI, the cigar-smoking Hellboy lives in a restricted facility with the agency's other alien discoveries. Working with ?Mer-man? Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a pyro-kinetic who can start infernos at will, they fight monsters and other unfriendly life forms.
But Hellboy's routine is rocked when the aging Prof. Broom introduces him to a new agent. Fresh-faced and seemingly uncertain about his job description, John Myers (Rupert Evans) is ?HB's? new sidekick. Feeling more like a babysitter than partner, the superhero isn't too happy about the arrangement, especially when John asks Liz out for a date. However the new cohorts have to put personal matters behind them when tentacled aliens start popping up in local subway stations.
Hellboy approaches his work with a resigned sense of duty. Admittedly, fighting indestructible foes can be disheartening when your own servicemen are shot, slashed, and ingested all in vain. It's no wonder the agency is recruiting new help and keeping the employment conditions quiet. Other death inducing activities include impaling, burning and electrocutions. Shards of glass embedded in a man's back and chunks of quivering flesh falling from splattered bodies during numerous fight scenes also make this film unsuitable for young or squeamish audiences.
Supposedly destined to bring destruction, Hellboy provides evidence that life is full of personal choices. Those decisions ultimately determine a person's future and character. Quietly going about saving the world, these outcasts of society stick together for the good of humanity without ever expecting thanks. While these messages are good, even older teens might miss them in all the pandemonium and mayhem that constantly swirl around this red devil.
Hellboy is rated PG-13: for sci-fi action violence and frightening images.
Cast: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans