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Hellboy: The Art Of The Movie edited by Scott Allie

01/01/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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pub: Titan Books. 199 page illustrated softcover. Price: 16.99 (UK). ISBN: 1-84023-881-X.

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It's a bit hard to define just who wrote this book about the new film, 'Hellboy', as there are so many contributors, primarily from the production side. From director Guillermo Del Toro and co-screenwriter Peter Briggs to creator/artist Mike Mignola and artist Wayne Barlowe to a host of designers that brought everything to life. I have to confess to not following the 'Hellboy' comicbook when it came out first in the early 80s. I'm not nominally a horror reader and even Mignola confesses that his artwork tended to make Hellboy look like he was just some big dude with goggles on his forehead rather than sawn-off horns. Saying that, I still tend to find Mignola's artwork extreme chiaracarso but that can be put down to personal taste. Considering that his art here is more exact, one can't help wonder on the constraints of comicbook deadline and style having an influence on his earlier work. Whatever, it makes a great starting point with lots of latitude for turning a comicbook into what looks like a graphically interesting film that I'm looking forward to watching with its DVD release.

In the meantime, if you've seen the film then this is a great companion piece to it. Not only is there the complete unabridged script, including indicating which scenes were knocked out of the final film, but production design for characters and sets, storyboards and various comments from the production crew. I don't think you should be buying this book if you're expecting any comments from the cast.

The film follows the life and times of the title demon character called 'Hellboy' after the Nazis brought him from hell as a baby in WW2 but rescued by the allies. He grows up to be a secret operative of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence with deniability whenever the odd photo of 'Red' appears in the more trashier newspapers. He is aided by Abe Sapiens, a humanoid water-breather and Liz, a pyrokinetic.Various humans, including Professor Broom who raised Hellboy, work around this unlikely trio as they trash any demon outbreaks that come along. For this first film adventure, it is the remnant of the original Nazi group who brought Hellboy to Earth who have started the trouble. Into this mix, there is loads of action and adventure and even a touch of a love story.

This is the kind of quality I like in movie making books. It underlines the work of the production team in bringing a reality to life together with enough mouth-watering stuff that can only bring out admiration for the amount of work and detail in bringing a film to the screen and who are often the unsung heroes behind the scenes.

It is also a decent and depthy read that should could you going for several days rather than something you can finish over night and I'm sure you'll use it as an additional reference when re-watching the film.

GF Willmetts

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