For my reviews of the original films, click the following links:
Alright, so big surprise for those of you that don’t know, I’m not a big comic book reader, so I know very little about the source material for this character. Having said that, I enjoyed the Guillermo Del Toro movies when I was a teen. It cemented Ron Perlman’s name in my mind, grew to have an enormous crush on Selma Blair, and of course, made me a fan of both Del Toro and Doug Jones later on.
Fast-forward to later on, like everyone else, I was bummed at never seeing another Hellboy by Del Toro and Perlman, despite constant talk of a follow-up, and even Perlman getting into the make-up chair for a little kid for Make-a-Wish years after the 2008 flick. That’s dedication right there.
Fast-forward to today, I have to admit that I was not quite on board with a Hellboy reboot with new talent in front of and behind the camera. But that groan didn’t last long when I learned that David Habour of STRANGER THINGS fame was going to be the new Hellboy and suddenly, I went from skeptical, to excited. I couldn’t think of a better casting choice to replace Perlman. So, I decided to revisit the franchise prior, links to my reviews up top, to prepare myself for another wild outing.Nei
The story looks like it’s about Hellboy being a defender of humanity, but an evil sorceress comes around, believing that she and him are meant to destroy and rule the world together.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have David Harbour (SLEEPLESS , SUICIDE SQUAD , BLACK MASS , QUANTUM OF SOLACE , and the upcoming DHAKA ), Milla Jovovich (RESIDENT EVIL: FINAL CHAPTER , and the upcoming MONSTER HUNTER ), Sasha Lane (HEARTS BEAT LOUD  and AMERICAN HONEY ), Daniel Dae Kim (ALLEGIANT , and the upcoming ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE ), and Ian McShane (JOHN WICK  and 2 , GRIMSBY , CORALINE , and upcoming films BOLDEN  and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Neil Marshall, known for DOOMSDAY (2008) and THE DESCENT (2005). Penning the screenplay, we have Andrew Cosby, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Benjamin Wallfisch, known for SHAZAM! (2019), DARKEST MINDS (2018), ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017), LIGHTS OUT (2016), and the upcoming IT: CHAPTER 2 (2019). The cinematographer is Lorenzo Senatore, known for MEGAN LEAVEY (2017) and RISEN (2016). Finally, the editor is Martin Bernfeld, known for POWER RANGERS (2017).
Overall, if you’d asked me this morning, I would have told you that I was hyped as fuck for this flick. But after seeing 11% on RottenTomatoes and a 5.6/10 on IMDb (both as of 4/11/2019), I was a little heartbroken. Then articles started cropping up about how the production of the film was troubled with Harbour walking off set, the director clashing with a pair of producers (who also worked on the previous Hellboys) and suddenly I feel less ecstatic. Here’s hoping everyone was paid to down-vote and the troubled production doesn’t show in the the final product, but… damn it, I want to like this.
This is my honest opinion of: HELLBOY
In the dark ages, the evil sorceress Viviane “The Blood Queen” Nimue (Milla Jovovich) tried to raise an army and take over the world, only to be thwarted by King Arthur (Mark Stanley) and Merlin (Brian Gleeson). Though unable to die, she was chopped into pieces and her body parts hidden across the world.
In the present day, Hellboy (David Harbour) is a demon working for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), and his adopted father Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) assigns him to a new mission, to go to Europe and help the Osiris Club, an English society of warriors that hunt giants, kill a trio of giants who have been laying waste to the countryside. What starts as a simple assignment becomes complicated when the Club attempts to kill Hellboy instead. Though the attempt fails and is reunited with a young woman named Alice (Sasha Lane), whom Hellboy knew when she was a baby, and they learn that Hellboy was seen in a vision that he’d be the reason the world ends and is all tied with the return of Viviane Nimue.
Hmm… I should hate this movie. I should be utterly disappointed with it. I mean, what’s there to like? The story makes absolutely no sense. Shit seems to happen for no reason. I mean, this is for all intents and purposes, and awful trainwreck of a film. And yet… all I can think about is how much I don’t hate this movie. In fact, I quite enjoyed myself. In fact squared, I liked it. Why do I feel this way? For one reason and one reason only. VIOLENCE!!! SCREAMING, BONE-CRUNCHING, HUMAN-SUFFERING VIOLENCE!!! I think I have problems, yo.
But fine, let’s tackle the bad stuff first. The story makes no sense. I get that Nimue wants to create a hell on Earth for all of monster-kind, but why is she so obsessed with Hellboy being her king? I mean, this is bad romance movie material where a woman is nothing without her man. Nimue seems quite capable of dishing out her own brand of hell and was pretty close to achieving her goals. The only thing that stood in her way was Excalibur. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ And many questions here. Why does Hellboy suddenly turn evil because he holds the sword? I mean, Excalibur seems pretty unrelated to him. Also, why make him take it? Literally, the only magical weapon that can kill her is the very weapon she’s trying to force him to wield. This is… so dumb. And she knows that he doesn’t want anything to do with her. That’s like a werewolf handing out silver bullets, or Dracula going out for a beach day. This is remarkably stupid. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
When I say that shit happens for no reason, I really mean that. Hellboy’s opening scene is him in South America fighting a luchador. I’m not kidding. Well, the context is that he’s looking for his missing partner, who we know nothing about, and has been turned into a vampire, which he never exacts revenge on, and has a powerful emotional scene when he kills his vampire former partner, even though I can’t remember the dude’s name, and is completely forgotten in the rest of the movie. So what was the point of this scene, you may ask? Nothing! Bupkis! Zilch! Nada! Midagi! Nimic! Rien! Well, except to establish that we the audience are in for a weird, action-packed ride. Which is totally possible to do without throwing in a relationship we have no connection to and emotional stakes that we weren’t aware of.
This movie also really loves its flashbacks. We get, no less than three of them. I won’t count the opening sequence, but I will count the World War II flashback when baby Hellboy arrives, with special guest Thomas Hayden Church as Nazi hunter, The Lobster, which was amazing. I will also count the scene where we see Hellboy meet both an infant Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham) and Alice. And Ben Daimio’s (Daniel Dae Kim) flashback when he comes a… I guess, were-jaguar? Is it ever really established what he is? By the way, that sequence was basically a Predator rip-off.
And Hellboy suddenly develops this mindset that monsters have a right to exist and is possibly considering Nimue’s proposal. He’s also got a troubled history with his father… who was an alcoholic and completely hard on him as a boy. That comes out of nowhere, since it’s not properly established. The pacing for each scene feels incredibly rushed, the script isn’t especially well-written, some of the CGI is embarrassingly awful, this movie is a technical dumpster fire.
But who care about that shit? VIOLENCE!!! BLOOD!!! SCREAMING!!! SUFFERING!!! CARNAGE!!!
No, seriously, this movie is VIOLENT. In fact, I might say that this is the most violent superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Yes, Deadpool, Kick-Ass, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (2008), LOGAN (2017), DREDD (2012), and SUPER (2010) all have their moments of intensity, but… man, I think this takes that to a whole other level. There’s bone-crunching, people screaming in fear! There’s dismemberment, decapitations, bisections, impalings, and blood, BLOOD, BLOOOOOOD! Fuck, there’s so much blood! There’s this dude, he gets picked up by a giant demon, he’s thrown onto a broken tree, and his skin is literally peeled off his body. Another demon steps on innocent people, impaling them as it walks, and they don’t die! They’re still screaming and writhing! People’s faces are split open, dudes eaten alive, I mean this is the closest you’ll ever get to me seeing torture porn and legitimately enjoying myself.
But not only that, unlike the first Hellboy movie, but very similar to the second, it embraces the weird world this is supposed to be set in. You get a wide variety of weird creatures and characters. You have the half-human, half-pig Gruagach, there’s Alice’s powers of summoning dead people in the form of their upper bodies as they were when they were alive, but their legs are replaced with… I have no idea, ghost intestines? What the fuck would YOU call those things?! Oh, and they all come out of her mouth. Yeah, it’s clearly just fucked up-looking for the sake of looking fucked up, but that’s a visual that stays with you. Baba Yaga (Troy James/Emma Tate) looks amazing, with that creepy smile that’s always on her face, contorting her body and moving around a lot, and her house on chicken legs visual is such an awesome sight, even if it does happen out of nowhere.
On the one hand, I should be outraged because even the first Hellboy, which I don’t really like all that much, had far better characters who were more interesting. But unlike its amazing sequel, it didn’t embrace the weird world that it should have been. This one goes balls to the wall with how the Hellboy movie should look and be (by my knowledge), but the characters are absolutely shit. Don’t get me wrong, hand the script to someone who understands storytelling and knows how to write for the character, and you’ve got something that could be on legit par with great superhero movies. This is definitely not that, but it’s refreshing to see a movie not make apologies with the violence and know exactly what it was made for. On that level, I do weirdly respect it. Is it better than the other Hellboy movies? Fuck no. Will the mass majority like it? Probably not. Will we be seeing this on “Worst movies of 2019” lists? You can bet your sweet asses on that. Still… as a recommendation… I say ONLY see this if you’re a whore for mindless violence, as this movie might go down in history as the textbook example of “mindless violence.” So take that for what it’s worth.
My honest rating for HELLBOY: 5/5
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