Prayer Focus
Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and frightening images

Reviewed by: William Foote

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teens and Adults
Suspense/Horror and Action Adventure
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 2, 2004 (wide)
Featuring: Ron Perlman—“Blade II,” “Star Trek: Nemesis
David Hyde Pierce—“Down with Love,” “Osmosis Jones
Doug Jones—“Adaptation,” “Men in Black II
Karel Roden—“Bulletproof Monk,” “15 Minutes
Victoria Smurfit—“Bulletproof Monk,” “About a Boy,” “The Beach
Director: Guillermo Del Toro—“Blade II,” “Mimic
Producer: Mike Richardson, Lloyd Levin, Lawrence Gordon
Distributor: Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Revolution Studios

Learn about the real place called HELL…

Is it an actual place? Answer

Why was Hell made? Answer

Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer

How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “…a supernatural, action-adventure based on Mike Magnolia’s acclaimed Dark Horse Comics series of the same name. Born in the flames of hell 60 years ago during World War II, Hellboy was brought to Earth by evil madman Grigori Rasputin to perpetrate evil. Destined to be a harbinger of the apocalypse, Hellboy was rescued by Allied Forces led by Professor Broom, founder of the clandestine B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), who raised him like a son and developed his extraordinary paranormal gifts. Despite his dark origins, Hellboy becomes an unlikely champion of good, battling the evil forces that threaten our world.”

Well, once again Hitler and his Nazi henchmen are blamed (or at east used) for the attempted loosing of unspeakable evil upon the world, as at the height of World War II, Hitler’s evil occultist, Kroenen gives up his soul by aiding the unkillable and very evil Grigari Rasputin to unlock the Gate of Hell and usher the hosts of Satan into the world.

Fortunately for humanity, a brave band of GI’s thwart the evil plans and close the portal, but not before one baby demon (affectionatly named Hellboy) slips through. He is lovingly raised by Professor Trevor Broom, founder of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). Teaming up with Liz Sherman, a human who has the power to turn into a human fire ball, Abe Sapien, a mer-man creature with psychic powers, and a very human FBI agent John Meyers, Hellboy becomes the champion of good as he battles the evil forces eventually released upon the world by Rasputin and Kroenen.

Unfortunately, Hellboy continues the same humanistic world view theme that we have seen so frequently in recent comic book movies (The Hulk, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), i.e., man is morally good and has the power to prevail over evil.

According to Hellboy, the evil “all began in 1944.” (In reality, God’s Word said it all began before the foundations of the world were laid when Satan was filled with pride over his own beauty and God cast him out of Heaven along with his fellow fallen angels (now demons) according to Ezk. 28:16-17. See Relevant Issues section of this page.)

The closest the movie came to any Biblical reference of righteousness was from an off screen narrator who intoned, “In the absense of light darkness prevails.” As believers, we should remember that Christ was “the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).

Occultic themes run rampant through out the movie. Although there is a universal acceptance of supernatural evil, demons and Hell, the token reference to God comes in the negative as one evil character intones, “Your God chooses to remain silent, mine lives.” As believers we need to remember that God is not silent, in fact he “has spoken” (Psalm 50). Further references to Christ, angels or heaven are undeniably missing.

For a short period there is an unspoken reliance by Professor Broom (and later by Agent Meyers) on the implied saving power of a Rosary string which somehow seems to save Meyers, but not the professor, from death at the hands of the evil Kroenen.

The movie is extremely violent throughout, including shootings, stabbings and burnings, however, gore is minimal. There is no sex or nudity at all. And although present, the use of profanity is surprisingly infrequent. I counted 3 uses of Jesus name, 2 “Oh my G*d,” 1 G*d D*mn, 1 G*d, 1 cr*p. Hellboy smokes a lit cigar throughout most of the movie.

The movie does portray evil as totally undesirable, and all of the evil characters are eventually done away with by the movie’s end. Goodness and love are portrayed as desirable and are exemplified in the character of Hellboy in his relationship with his human father and his friends. The producers and director apparently took a cue from the failure of “The Hulk” and cast a live actor, Ron Pearlman for the part. Good move. He stole the show. Even though the story line was very predictable, it was well acted. The special effects, on set and computer generated, were top notch and the casting/acting made the movie work.

As an adult, I enjoyed the subtle humor most of which was scripted to Hellboy—like taking counsel on his love relationship with Liz Sherman from a young boy over cookies and milk. After pensively considering the boy’s counsel, he returned to his senses, reminding himself and the boy that “your only 9 years old.”

This is a guy movie. Hellboy will certainly appeal to young teen age boys and possibly some older fans of Dark Horse Comic books from whence the Hellboy fame came. If your teens see this film, I suggest that you spend some time afterwards sharing the real truth about Evil and Righteousness from God’s Word.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Negative—This movie can be summed up in one word: CORNY! I had the feeling that this is what it would be like from the trailers, and I was right. There are a few funny moments and some good special effects, but the creatures are all the same and seem too ridiculous to take seriously. All the occult material in the film is also to wacky to take serious and all it will do is make you say “Ha! gimme a break!.” I think the only thing that saves this movie is the character of Hellboy, he’s funny and does a pretty good acting job. Also, the assassin with the blades is pretty cool. But you won’t be missing much by skipping it.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Dallas Knowles, age 24
Negative—I have to admit that I bought into the hype of this movie. I went in expecting a funny comic book movie (based on the trailers) that had a clear good vs. evil battle. However, Hellboy delves far too much into the occult and confusing mythology to be considered a good movie. The occult aspect gives an offensive rating, morally speaking, and the confusing mythology that is never really explained makes it just another action movie that is completely lost on plot. Not that it didn’t have enough—it had way too much to try to explain. Though the Hellboy character must be given kudos for making every effort to choose good over evil, it is clear that he really doesn’t care for tracking down these creatures of darkness. Too bad—you’d think a demon from hell that must choose between good and evil would make a more emotional and convincing decision.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Joshua, age 23
Positive—Let me say first of all that this is primarily a comic book movie, based upon Mike Mignola’s excellent Dark Horse series of the same name. As a fan of the comics, I was excited to see the film version, and was not let down in any way. In fact, I have to say that this is probably the best comic book movie I have ever seen. Addressing the reviewer’s gripes regarding the morality of the film, I think there is more to Hellboy than meets the eye. First of all, when Broom says that the evil started with the Nazis, he is referring to this particular threat to the world began with Rasputin’s plot to summon the Ogdru Jahad to Earth. However, the Ogdru Jahad is/are it/themself(s) an ancient entity(s). Evil with a capital “E” is therefore ancient.

Also, the rosary in this case is better seen as a representation of the way in which Christ’s sacrifice allows one to make a free choice for good. Without Christ’s sacrifice, Hellboy would be bound to his demonic heritage, and open the Gate of the Dragon. However, the rosary is what reminds him that he can choose. Indeed, even though Rasputin is defeated at the end, Hellboy himself still must struggle with choices for good. Even with Rasputin gone, Hellboy still has the power to bring the Ogdru Jahad to Earth, and there are still beings who would try to use him for this purpose.

As such, Hellboy is still very much on his journey. As to his initial choice for relationships over fighting evil, it is more a reflection of his own flaws as a free moral agent. All people are tempted, and to show this temptation is not the same as to endorse it. After all, I think almost any human being would feel much the same way in similar situations. All in all, it’s a good movie to go see and think about. While it may be more intense than is appropriate for young children, it is still a fun flick to view with your friends.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Will McCollough, age 23
Negative—Don’t waste your money. This movie is long and boring. There may be a few exciting scenes, but that is all. I also think the film mixes good and evil, as though they can be the same. Obviously the title “Hellboy” does not attract most Christians. I decided to see the movie after being told that it was not bad, but after seeing the film, I believe it is immoral. The main “good” character is in the image most of us have for Satan.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—Hoyt, age 30
…I do not think that the point of Hellboy is that “man is morally good and has the power to prevail over evil.” The point of Hellboy is that even though we are born with an evil nature, there is still redemption for us through the choices that we make. This may not be an explicitly Christian message, but consider that in a key scene in the movie, when Hellboy is struggling mightily with his evil nature, and losing the battle, it is the the image of the cross of Christ that brings him back to his senses. I liked it when the FBI man called to him saying “remember who you are” and tossed the cross to him, indicating that it was not some magic power in the symbol, but what it reminded him of.

Of course, this isn’t The Passion of The Christ. This is a comic-book fantasy super-hero film, so we shouldn’t really expect it to come straight from Scripture. I think that this film presents a positive message, if the characters and actions are considered as metaphors for reality. Hellboy represents fallen, cursed mankind, who is able to rise above his evil nature only with the help of his adoptive father (we are adopted into the family of God), and the support of his brethren here on Earth.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 40
Positive—I really enjoyed Hellboy. Most sci-fi/fantasy/action flicks are just too outrageous, but this one actually wasn’t *too* impossible (expect a few near-invincible guys throughout, but not nearly as bad as most films of its kind). Overall, Hellboy was just fun. His comedic behavior saves the film by taking it from serious, to being a parody of itself. There was plenty of action, heroics, humor, and romance, so nearly everyone should be entertained. The language was so-so, sex was absent (I think), and the violence was real enough to draw me into the film somewhat, but not gory. As usual in such films, the CGI bloodless action looks slightly fakey, but they did a really good job on trying to fix that problem. The supernatural elements are pagan/naturalistic, although there’s a basic good-versus-evil plot behind the film that’s nearly altogether missing from Hollywood today.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Nathan Gundlach, age 19
Positive—I think Hellboy is a good movie. It is definitely dark and not good for kids to watch, but it has me impressed. For one, Hellboy is Half-Demon Half-Man so I see it as his half-man side, plus the loving care of his father, is what made him able to distinguish between good and evil. There is only one part that I do not like. That is where *SPOILER AHEAD* he raises the dead guy in his grave. That is kind of wierd, as he uses the occult—but all in all it’s a good movie.
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Jeff Walker, age 22
Positive—I believe we as Christians, particularly in this—a Sight and Sound generation, forget the subtlety that a movie like this can do for an otherwise LOST generation. Oh sure, we can find the negativity of the occult, etc. but what is so sad, is that we have a generation of young people who think it’s cool to be dark…

Hellboy does what it was meant to do I believe—He has an awesome sense of humor, makes the best of every situation, sees the good in each action, and always plays the gentleman. Yes, there are couple of swear words, and the BAD guy is definitely the Enemy incarnate, but what you see is something that says IT IS COOL TO RESIST EVIL! That is the message of this movie, done in a way that will appeal to many age groups.

I do not believe we should shelter this or keep teens from seeing it. It is campy and ghostbuster-ish, with enough action to keep any guy interested, and when he has to choose to remember who he is, he chooses the path of right doing, even if it means the loss of his one true love. Like it says in the movie.

Unsaved kids today get turned off instantly at the mention of God or Jesus—But when approached in this way, they can easily see why BAD is NOT GOOD or COOL.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Jim Carney, age 42
Positive—[Non-Christian] This film’s title will turn a lot of believers away. Which is a shame because this movie is based on making choices for good or evil no matter what your past is. The occult is not represented as favorable, neither is evil for that matter. A good rent.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
—Amir Zal, age 22
Positive—This movie has its questionable parts, but my son realizes that this being is a hero. He shows that good can triumph over evil…
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Melissa, age 27
Positive—[Non-Christian] As an avid fan of the comic books that inspired this film and their creator Mike Mignola, I feel that most people will inevitably miss the point of this story and its unlikely hero simply due to preconceptions. “Hellboy” is a story about the ability to change your lot in life and not succumb to your inherently evil nature, a reality that I’ve seen upheld by many believers on this site in the past. The only objectionable element seems to be that Hellboy does not find his way through Jesus Christ overtly, though he does find it through the guidance and love of a God-fearing man.

I think one must take this story with a grain of salt as, obviously, these characters exist in a world different from ours. There is no real red giant with a stone right hand running around, acting as a superhero and fighting the powers of evil in our world. It is up to the individual to choose the path of righteousness (as many believe is through Jesus) or the path of evil for themselves.

I think there is a valuable lesson about redemption in this film and, if you like the cheesy humour of the original comics and Ron Perlman’s excellent performance, it’s worth a watch. I think it would be silly to let the main character’s appearance overshadow his struggle to denounce his Hellish roots in favour of a self-sacrificing life bettering the world for man.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Kehli Kytlica, age 19

Comments from young people
Neutral—It was a fairly good movie, only thing was it was quite dark and for small children I would not recommend it. for the demonic aspect that could be frightening. I found the story line quite lame and almost embarrassing. It was just another one of these movies that I would not see again but was entertained slightly while watching it.
My Ratings: [Good/3]
—Faye, age 16
Neutral—Hellboy is a pretty good action flick, mixed with a healthy does of humor. However, due to the many occult references and creepy scenes in the film, and I wouldn’t recommend it to the young person, OR the young Christian.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—William, age 18
Positive—…I really enjoyed it. The language was very mild compared to other PG-13 and some PG movies. The action scenes were great, acting was great. However, it is a little iffy on the whole occult thing, and the fact that Hellboy is …well, Hellboy. definitely a PG-13 movie for violence and scary images, but if your looking for a movie that will entertain you, this one’s on my list.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Daniel Robison, age 15
Positive—I really enjoyed the movie. I would personally say that the Plot was not that great, because of all that gore and a bit violence, but the movie was great. I would say that this movie needs a bit more of Jesus Christ and more love in it. Even though there were some “love” parts, as in H.B.’s anger, the movie was very good.

Personally, I think that this movie is somewhat related to the Hulk, but not with sci-fiction, but of more religion. I really liked how they used Catholicism to which was against Hell. Even though the witchcraft parts were not that great, I really liked how “John Myers” threw the Cross at H.B. as a reminder to whom he was. That would go for any of us. We, sometimes, need to remember who we are and why we’re here. To follow Jesus Christ. I would probably want to see this movie again, but this movie is NOT all that great for young pre-teens.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Grace, age 13
Positive—In spite of some occultic elements and the main protagonist being a demon, I actually enjoyed “Hellboy” a great deal. This could be just me, but I don’t think there’s any real, concrete reason as to why Christians should avoid this movie at all costs. It’s not supposed to be about the real spiritual world. It’s just a popcorn action movie, and a good one at that. It doesn’t try to present itself as a Bible lesson or anything; just a nice bit of entertainment.

If the parents think their kids wouldn’t be bothered by the violence or profanity, they could just talk with the children about angelic warfare, etc. after the movie. With that aside, I liked this film a lot. Not the best comic book movie (I reserve that praise for “X-men 2”) but it still had great effects, excellent action, nice performances, and as far as I’m concerned, a fascinating plot. If you’re not too bothered by the movie’s supernatural features, I think this would be a great one to go see with some friends on a Friday night.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—John Patterson, age 17
Negative—First off, I just want to make it clear that I have never seen this movie and have no plans to in the future. However, a friend of mine did go see it and loved it, which I found disturbing. From what I understand, this movie is basically about the devil’s son—or “Hellboy” as he is more commonly known—who somehow finds himself on Earth among humankind and decides that he wants to shun his demonic heritige and become one of the “good guys.” This sounds to me like a classic case of calling good evil and evil good, and in the Bible God states cleary that cursed are those who do so.

Demons cannot be “good.” In order to be so they would have have to be of the Lord, which is a blasphemous contradiction. This movie glamourizes hell and demons. I can just imagine what a kid might say after watching it. “Wow, wasn’t Hellboy cool!” or “I want to be just like Hellboy.” or is it so far fetched to wonder “Maybe one day I’ll go to hell and meet Hellboy!”
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive]
—Leah, age 15
Positive—I went to see Hellboy thinking it would be just a cheesy comic book adaptation. I am not a comic book fan, and I had not read any of the Hellboy comics but this movie was well done. The acting was superbly done and the story line was excellent. On a cautious note this film does contain some occult references. This does not bother me because the practices are shown as evil and at odds with good.

Still, if you are bothered by some occult I would not see this movie. There was only minimal swearing with maybe 5 different curses. The great thing about this film is that it opens with a question, “what makes a man a man?” and at the end it answers the question saying that a man is made by “not how he begins his life but rather how he ends it.” This film shows us how choices affect our life. The only downside is that at times the gadgets seem overdone, but other than that it was an excellent film. I would highly recommend seeing it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Michael Gavin, age 17
Positive—I saw this movie with my brother while we were on vacation instead of seeing “13 going on 30” with our mom and two sisters. My brother and I both enjoyed Hellboy. Not as good a superhero flick as X2 or Spider-man but one that I am trying to convince my mom in letting me buy (director’s cut). There were objectional things (the occult, demons, and “gods”). But if you like superheros and are a firm Christan you will like this movie!
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Caleb, age 14
Movie Critics
…Humor proves tonic in this otherwise stale tale of demons who hunt other demons…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
…Wisecracking Hellboy is the saving grace of an otherwise uninspired film… the movie is a storytelling disaster…
—William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
…You can sum up …Hellboy, both the movie and its eponymous hero, in one splendid image. Bashing his way through a subway station, the only begotten adolescent son of Satan…
—John Patterson, LA Weekly
…non-stop violence and nods to necromancy [attempting to communicate with the spirits of the dead] should dissuade discerning families from bonding with this horned boy from (way) down under…
—Steven Isaac, Plugged In
…overall Hellboy is a well-paced bit of adrenaline that’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser…
—Betsy Bozdech,
…unacceptable… occultic theme… disturbing images…
—Alan Boyer, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…worldview in which feelings and interpersonal relationships are more important than morality, along with the casting of spells and occult beliefs… strong, but muddled and confused, Christian elements…
—Eddie Turner, Movieguide