Review of 'Hellboy'

In the dark ages King Arthur (Mark Stanley) and Merlin (Brian Gleeson) defeat the powerful “Queen of Blood”, Vivian Nimue (Milla Jovovich) who they eventually dispatch by cutting her up into small pieces, sealing them into trunks, and sending them to the four corners of the earth. In the present day Hellboy (David Harbour) is a demon from hell who works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). Hellboy meets a former colleague from DPRD who has turned into a vampire. When he is defeated, he warns Hellboy that bad things are coming. The witch Baba Yaga (Emma Tate) has a grudge against Hellboy, freeing Nimue to gain the revenge. It will be up to Hellboy to save the world…

I can't help but compare this Hellboy to the amazing original from Guillermo del Toro (see here for my review) but this is hardly fair. Here the filmmakers have gone for a “15” rating (instead of “12a” for the original), introducing loads of swearing and quite gratuitous violence which, to be fair, seems truer to the comic book source material but along the way it has lost a lot of the heart and fun in del Toro's film. Indeed, the only character here that we identify in any way with is Hellboy despite the presence of Ian McShane as Professor Broom though it is impossible for McShane him to step into the shoes left by John Hurt (there is no “Abe Sapien” here though there is an onscreen hint he might appear in a later instalment).

Attempting to put it aside, this new Hellboy is interesting with some very good effects but is a bit too violent for my taste. There is little room for any character moments with the action seeming to never end which becomes a bit tiresome to the point we no longer really care. The plot is simple with no real suspense involved other than in how Hellboy will save the day though there is a nice conflict with how he deals with his origin, the inevitability of fate and his true nature. Otherwise, it is blood and gore splashed all over the screen in ever more preposterous action sequences. By the way, if you are not too tired of it all stay for the credits as they contain several extra scenes.

Good action flick but only shade on the character depth and sense of fun in the Guillermo del Toro films. See those instead.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2020-07-26

Directed by: Neil Marshall

Studio: Summit Entertainment

Year: 2019

Length: 120 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure