Mike Mignola created the epitome of a paradoxical character back in 1993 when creative genius led to the birth of the now famous Hellboy. Hellboy’s disorders make him one of the most complex and creative characters to grace the pages of graphic novels. The persona projected, in fact (combined with stellar artwork, and more importantly storytelling), spawned a series of films, both live action and animation. As it stands now, in late 2011, Hellboy can ealy be condered one of the most intriguing anti-hero’s (it’s tough to actually label him an anti-hero, but the proper terminology escapes me at the moment) to ever grace the big screen. He’s mean, but loving, sharp witted, sharp tongued, but good willed in nature; for the good Lord’s sake, he’s a demon who fights for a potive cause. How many “superheroes” can claim such a conglomeration of traits?
With four official films wrapped and released, Hellboy’s onscreen future remains in question (a third live action film has been rumored nce the release of The Golden Army, though not much news has trickled down the pipeline as of late). Already established accomplishments however, rest in cinematic history books: whether Hellboy broke any financial records or not, he, and the stories to showcase his tumultuous adventures will never be forgotten by fans worldwide: Hellboy is one of the greatest heroic franchises in history, and the outlandishly original concepts have proffered a level of replay value that few film franchises can pretend to boast. Knowing and acknowledging the greatness of Mignola’s Hellboy is one thing: ranking the films from best to worst is a completely different challenge.
#4. Hellboy: Blood and Iron – I have a tough time rating this in the final of four slots, but truth be told I enjoy all four features so much that not a ngle franchise installment stands as a clear favorite. In many ways Blood and Iron offers the most horror for viewers. There’s an extremely gloomy mood about this animated flick that really summons chills. It’s war with vampires, ghosts and a slew of other creepy critters from some world far foreign to earth. The story unfolds quite smoothly, and the finale is an absolute blast.
#3. Hellboy: The Golden Army – I love the aesthetic value of this picture. They say it’s a must to go bigger with sequels, ratcheting up the action, and director Guillermo del Toro certainly followed that formula. While there are some excellent digital FX works put to use, there’s also some nice practical work that any fan of yesteryears visuals should appreciate. Throw in an extremely wide variety of villains and ghouls, as well as one bad ass villain in the form of Prince Nuada and you’ve got yourself a winner. My only complaint here would be the heavy reliance on action over science fiction or horror showcased in the film’s latter acts.
#2. Hellboy: Sword of Storms – Now here’s a damn eerie Hellboy installment with a touch of everything imaginable. Hellboy’s got giant bats, mummies, flesh-eating floating heads, a giant half woman, half black widow, cruel water turtles and a deadly duo in the form of thunder and lightning phycally manifested to deal with. Factor in a really cool Japanese period element that creates the façade of a tame Japan and some demonic posseson and you’ve got one of the greatest Hellboy tales to hit the market, in any medium.
#1. Hellboy – Nothing quite beats the original live action Hellboy transfer. Guillermo del Toro worked a magic that few expected, even knowing the man’s talents. The story is coheve, humorous, a tad creepy and of course, action packed with some memorable monsters ready and willing to give our unlikely hero… Hell. I’m not certain the chemistry on display in this feature has been matched by any other Hellboy feature to see release thus far, and that’s a strong statement, because Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, and del Toro himself work seamlessly together. I could illuminate a shitload of great moments in this film, but I’ll just mply say this: decayed, resurrected zombie corpse guide, equals absolute gold!