“Hellboy” stars David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, and Daniel Dae Kim. Released on April 12, 2019, the film is about a demon who must prevent a sorceress from destroying mankind.
The film is directed by Neil Marshall, who also directed “Dog Soldiers”, “The Descent”, “Doomsday”, and “Centurion”. It is based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name created by Mike Mignola, and it is a reboot of the “Hellboy” film series. Superheroes fight for truth and justice and are good-looking. This one isn’t that type of superhero. Sure, his appearance and behavior are far from heroic, but he can be pretty cool once you get to know him. The first time I encountered this demonic character was not from a comic book, but from the 2004 film by Guillermo del Toro, with Ron Perlman as the title character, and its sequel. Those films were mild box office successes and were well-received by critics and Hellboy fans alike. From my personal perspective, those films were pretty enjoyable and Ron Perlman was great in his role as the title character. While I too was disappointed that we won’t get a third film from del Toro and Perlman, I was also glad that Hollywood is giving the character another chance to shine on the big screen via a reboot, especially since the superhero genre is now popular. But is it something that many of us Hellboy fans wanted or are we better off waiting for del Toro to make “Hellboy 3”?
The film retells the story of the demonic being, Anung Un Rama, aka Hellboy (played by David Harbour), who was summoned from Hell by Nazis a long time ago. He was then raised by Trevor Bruttenholm (McShane), a professor and founder of a non-governmental agency that is tasked to hunt down paranormal forces that threaten the human race. Teaming up with one of the members of the agency and his old friend, Hellboy attempts to save the world from the vicious Blood Queen (Jovovich)…without freaking people out, of course. The major difference between this film and the last two Hellboy films is the tone. The reboot does retain the fantasy and superhero elements that we’re familiar with from del Toro’s version of “Hellboy”, but it managed to crank the amount of violence and language up to 11. So if you got any young kids who actually watched del Toro’s “Hellboy”, it’s probably best that you let them watch “Missing Link” instead. This film has a pretty noticeable habit of letting its audience know that it’s an adult-rated superhero film filled with nightmarish monsters, blood, and gore. You know, people losing their body parts, people being ripped to shreds, and other gross stuff like that. But I’m sure you don’t want to read about that. You’re here to read my initial thoughts on this new take on the Dark Horse Comics character. Well, let’s just say that I’ve seen films that are far more hellish than this. It’s not as torturous as a lot of critics are saying it was, but I can agree that the plot could use a fixer-upper. If you’re going into this film expecting it to be an in-depth fish-out-of-water story about self-discovery, then you’re already setting yourself up to get burned by the flames of disappointment. However, if you’re in a mood for some R-rated entertainment, this film has exactly what you need…for the most part. Sure, the story didn’t provide a whole lot of depth to its concept and the characters themselves struggled to make themselves memorable, but to me, all that matters is how enjoyable it was, and man, it was enjoyable. A bit underwhelming at times, but enjoyable. One of the reasons why I went to this film was David Harbour himself, who portrays the title character in the reboot. I really liked what Harbour brought to the table in the Netflix show, “Stranger Things”, and I was interested in seeing how he’s going to portray this character. Turns out he did a pretty good job at resembling how I imagined Hellboy. Rough, violent, and sarcastic. The best part about this character is that the filmmakers used practical makeup to design the character instead of taking the “easy route” by using CGI. Man, could you imagine the amount of backlash this film would get if they used the latter? There were some jokes from Hellboy that did feel a bit iffy when it comes to the delivery, but other than that, Harbour portrayed the character quite well. As for the other actors, ranging from McShane as Bruttenholm to Jovovich as the menacing Nimue, the Blood Queen, they’re nothing too special compared to Harbour’s performance, but they did their best in trying to make their performances entertaining. Plus Nimue was a pretty weak villain, in my opinion. Another thing that I happened to like were the visuals, especially the creatures. There were some CGI elements that failed to be convincing, including the gory parts, but the monsters themselves were pretty distinct and grotesque in terms of the designs. The action sequences and the humor were also quite fun to witness, although none of them stood out as unforgettable or groundbreaking. The action can be quite frenetic at times because of Neil Marshall’s style, but the film did its part in letting the audience see what’s going on during those sequences, mostly due to how they edited them.
Overall, this latest take on “Hellboy” didn’t raise as much hell as it wanted to do, but it did offer some bright spots to keep itself out of the underworld. Despite the film relying heavily on its violent style rather than its substance, I somehow managed to find some enjoyment in this superhero reboot thanks to Harbour’s performance, its action sequences, and the creature designs. It’s not as dreadful as other people are saying it was, but I can see that it does have some issues that can make any demon go insane. If you don’t really care about the flaws and just want to be entertained by its R-rated goodness, then by all means, go ahead and watch it. Otherwise, it’s worth watching at home.