April 7, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 99  

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The comic geek perspective

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

You know you’re in trouble when you’re watching the film adaptation of the comic book Hellboy and you realize you’ve become the comic book guy from The Simpsons. “Worst adaptation ever,” you mutter as you watch Hollywood butcher another comic book.

If you’re a fan of the original comic series, Hellboy delivers a lot of smoke, but no fire. It’s a failed attempt to translate a great comic — with a small but loyal following — into a big Hollywood blockbuster.

This isn’t to suggest that the problem stems from bad casting. Far from it — Perlman was born to play Hellboy. But without a decent screenplay, even the best cast can’t keep a plot this full of holes afloat.

The problem with Hellboy is that it fails to capture the gothic feel of the original series. It’s too full of CGI special effects, and too polished to do the premise justice. If the creators understood what made the original work, they would have known that an airy shadow is a million times more effective than a bug-eyed computer generated monster; which is surprising considering the comic’s creator Mike Mignola has an associate producer credit.

There are a few other notable flaws in the film. In the comic, Professor Bruttenholm doesn’t make it past page 15. Plus, Dr. Kroenen is not a super Nazi ninja goon; he’s an evil scientist.

In fact, almost none of the original plot from “Seed of Destruction” is used. And again, this might have something to do with where director del Toro wanted to take the Hellboy franchise. It’s remarkably similar in appearance to his previous attempt at a film inspired by a comic book, Blade II.

However, the oddest discrepancy between the two is the relationship between Hellboy and Liz Sherman (Blair). In the comic, there was never any attempt to establish a fling between Hellboy and Liz — yet for some reason, it’s in the film. Perhaps the creators of the film felt it would give Hellboy more depth; that it might appeal to those in the audience who like a little lovin’ in their demonic superhero stories.

Whatever the reason, the romance just doesn’t work. Hellboy’s infatuation with Liz is like the scene in Howard the Duck where Lea Thompson makes out with a jive-talking duck; it’s just too strange.



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