Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to pick a more obscure property to bring to the big screen in the modern boom of the superhero movie. A truly unique romp in the genre, as to be expected from a Del Toro film, Hellboy's fantastical thrills and lighthearted tone make for a fun time, even when some narrative bumps rattle the experience. Del Toro's vision is at full force here: from the gothic-inspired cinematography to the brilliant costume work and make-up effects for the different character designs, the $66 million budget was put to good use. Hellboy himself is a delight, with Ron Perlman clearly having a blast through all of his cigar-chomping and paranormal threat-fighting. The main problem here stems from the plot, which unfortunately lacks the kind of perfectionist touch of the technical side of things. The narrative drive of the story - dealing with modern day Nazis planning world domination, as you'd expect from modern day Nazis - is really quite weak, and the entire threat Hellboy faces is muddled. Outside of an organic relationship between Hellboy and love interest Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and the father-son dynamic of Hellboy and Broom (John Hurt), the ensemble is lacking in well-established characters. John Meyers is less of his own character than the eyes and ears of us, the viewers, as we're thrust into this unfamiliar fantasy world, the kind of character that rarely works in the medium of film. Amphibious wonder Abe Sapien is a quirky delight, which makes his increasing lack of screentime beyond the midpoint a huge disappointment, These sound like glaring issues, and in some ways they are, but the pairing of Del Toro and Perlman is too strong to succumb to them. A simple tightening of the film's structure might've done even greater wonders for what's already a wondrous and fresh film.