A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hellboy is a 2004 superhero movie in which the titular character must do battle against a demonic force that has reemerged. The movie contains frightening images, a dark and at times macabre tone, and the sad death of a central character. There's a great deal of violence in the fight scenes, which are at times bloody, and characters must wrestle with the deadly consequences of their actions. A scary character is addicted to self-surgery, while one of the creatures summoned by the Nazis is a hell-hound that will frighten younger audiences. Several characters (including one major character) die violent deaths. The inability of one of the characters to control her powers causes the off-screen death of innocents, which might frighten even the most mature of audiences. This same character is shown as a child being bullied; she is hit with rocks and taunted before she's knocked to the ground and uses her superpower to get revenge. One character is stabbed to death repeatedly. Another is impaled. Cigar smoking occurs throughout, and there's some product placement. Kissing is seen. Infrequent profanity includes "crap,'" "hell," and "goddamn."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Based on Mike Mignola's comic book series, HELLBOY centers on the titular antihero, who has the body of a Hell-spawned demon and the heart of a human. The film depicts how Hellboy made it to Earth as a child, then forwards to the present, in which the adult Hellboy is the supersized ward of Dr. Broom and the Bureau for Paranomal Research and Defense (BPRD). Cigar-munching, cat-loving Hellboy (Ron Perlman) has a huge stone hand and forearm that help him to pummel baddies. He's their most famous inmate, despite the fact that the U.S. government does its best to deny that Hellboy exists. When evil Russian villain Rasputin, his goons, and some rather nasty Hounds of Hell try to bring the Gods of Chaos to Earth, it's time to call in Hellboy & Co. Hellboy is endearingly human, with a penchant for wiseguy understatement and his love for his adopted family of misfits at the Bureau, especially doe-eyed and dangerous Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). They seem literally made for each other, as the woman who has trouble controlling her pyrotechnics wouldn't want a boyfriend who wasn't fireproof.
Is it any good?
Director Guillermo Del Toro captures some of the visual color, tone, and beauty of the comic book. But he sometimes makes you feel like you are reading it over someone else's shoulder, and that person takes too long to finish a page. Del Toro filled Blade 2 with whirling swords, back-flipping vampires, and frenetic action, at times rendering the fights an incomprehensible blur; he doesn't make that error again, but rather introduces a comparatively sleepy pace for Hellboy that seems to stretch its 132-minute length into a much longer movie, padded in parts by unnecessary and clichéd scenes and overkill in the squiggly-monsters-in-dripping-cavernous-cellars category.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the father-son bond between Dr. Broom and Hellboy, why they fight, and how this relationship impacts both of their characters.
The movie touches on an issue that runs throughout the comic book series, that of Hellboy's commitment to defense of humans despite his demon form. What does being human mean for Hellboy? Where does he have the power of choice?
How does Hellboy break the mold of the "traditional" superhero? How is he similar to superheroes in other movies who often feel less like heroes and more like misfits because of their appearance and supernatural abilities?
- In theaters: April 2, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 2004
- Cast: David Hyde Pierce, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair
- Director: Guillermo Del Toro
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence and frightening images
- Last updated: October 3, 2019
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