World War II.  Moments before his apparent death, the evil Rasputin opens a portal to another dimension and a small demon like creature, dubbed ‘Hellboy’ emerges. Taken in by the highly secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy grows up to work for the government that took him in. When an apparent Hell Hound rampages through the city, Hellboy soon discovers that Rasputin has returned and he seems mysteriously focused on getting Hellboy’s attention. But given the choice of being good or evil, which path will Hellyboy take?

Hellboy (2004) – Director: Guillermo del Toro

Is Hellboy appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 122 mins

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Karel Roden

Genre: Science Fiction


Based on the graphic novel by Mike Mignola, ‘Hellboy’ follows the exploits of a gruff, cigar smoking, cat-loving creature whose demonic appearance never overshadows his goodness and love of the humans who raised him. Along with fellow non-human, Abe Sapien, his fights against the paranormal world go almost unnoticed by the public even though without him, the world could have been destroyed many times over. The weight that is put on the character is carried well by Ron Perlman who plays the eponymous hero with oodles of sarcasm and wit to keep the proceedings light and easy-going.

The main downfall of ‘Hellboy’ is the plot which can’t seem to decide which direction to go in. It jumps from one scenario to another with little cohesion, making the story (which has a lot of potential) to be unremarkable. Another major issue with it is that many of the characters lack the motivations and depth they need and their actions often make little to no sense.

Generally, that action makes up for the absence of coherent plot but despite the iconic potential of Hellboy himself (realised much more effectively in the far superior sequel) ‘Hellboy’ is an ultimately forgettable movie which is unlikely to warrant repeat viewings.


One of the main villains wears a gas mask at all times, making him look very frightening. He never speaks and usually sneaks up on his victims, killing them with long blades before they have a chance to defend themselves. Early in the movie, it is made clear that he isn’t entirely human as he is impaled by a pole and a short while later is no longer there. Later in the film he is seen without his mask; in quite a graphic shot, he has no eyelids so his eyeballs stare out in a very creepy way and his mouth is stretched wide in a forced, scary grin. This character is likely to be disturbing for a lot of kids, especially as the dialogue at one point explains that he has a surgical addiction.

One scene is quite tense where the ‘good’ characters are exploring underground and are unaware that they are in danger. One major character swims underwater and is stalked by a creature which intends to kill him. One incidental character is suddenly attacked, having his face grabbed and the creature jumps on top of another who screams in terror; the camera cuts before any graphic deaths are seen. An established character is badly hurt and the dialogue in the next scene says that he ‘probably won’t survive the night’.

A skeleton is brought back to life, the visuals are not too graphic as the bones are shown to be quite dusty rather than gory. The skeleton has a noose around its neck, implying that he was killed by hanging; Hellboy carries the skeleton around, holding the rope over his shoulder.

One of the ‘bad’ characters is stabbed by a horn and soon after, tentacles burst out of their stomach. This leads to a creature growing out of their body, killing them and another character.



‘Hellboy’ had the potential to be a great movie but with a confused plot, characters whose motivations rarely make sense and some uninteresting villains, it struggles to make the impact it could have made. While it is unlikely to appeal to many adults, the movie’s spectacle and ‘comic book’ feel will probably make for a film that many kids can enjoy. We feel that this movie should be appropriate for most kids aged 8 and over but would recommend caution as the villain who wears a gas mask may be very frightening; he is introduced very early in the film so parents should be able to tell how their children will react to him quickly.

  • Violence: 3/5 (several incidental and established character deaths. Some are killed violently but very little blood and gore is seen. One character has his body forced through a tiny hole, his body and bones are shown to break as he goes through, no blood is seen but it is quite graphic)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (One death in particular is sad; when their body is found, a loved one holds them tightly and is clearly grieving)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (a couple of tense scenes which last for several minutes and culminate in fights and some deaths)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (there is a love triangle between three established characters. These romances are quite innocent in nature and do not turn sexual)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (mostly mild cursing and blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (One character explains that Rasputin was ‘poisoned, shot, stabbed, clubbed, castrated and finally drowned’)  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of living life in secrecy, the struggles of being different, having the courage to fight even if you are likely to be killed, the dilemma of choosing between good and evil, and making amends with loved ones before it is too late.

Words by Laura Record

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