Movie Review: Hellboy - Printable Version
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Movie Review: Hellboy - clarkkenallstar - 06-21-2020
David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim
2 hours 0 minutes
In the times of King Arthur, Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), the queen of monsters, who has the ability to wipe out humanity through spreading plague, is tricked by Arthur and Merlin and beheaded, though she doesn’t die. Her body is hacked into different pieces, which are scattered all over the world. She vows revenge against humanity before her head is carted off. The film then jumps to the present, where paranormal heavy hitter Hellboy (David Harbour), who is half demon and half human, has been sent to Tijuana to recover an agent gone missing by the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, headed by Hellboy’s adoptive father Professor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane). The agent has been turned into a vampire, who before being killed tells Hellboy that the end is near. He’s then sent to hunt some giants with the Wild Hunt in England, who betray him and turn on him, believing him to be a future threat that must be stopped. Meanwhile, Gruagach, a hog-like beast, is hunting for the Blood Queen’s body parts. He kills members of the Osiris Club before Hellboy can save them and takes away the part they were safeguarding. He forms an alliance of sorts with spirit medium Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), who was someone whom he rescued from the fairies when she was a toddler and who has gained strange powers because of her brief contact with them, and soldier Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), who can turn into a were-Jaguar. The Blood Queen is fully resurrected and charms Hellboy into believing that he must take up King Arthur’s sword, destroy humans, establish a realm of monsters on earth and rule by her side. Since it’s a comic book adaptation, you know he’s going to reject her offer at the last minute and do the right thing...
Director Guillermo del Toro first attempted bringing to life writer Mike Mignola’s seminal work about a brooding monster fighting on the side of humans in 2004 and 2008 respectively. A third film never took off because the director developed differences with the producers. Actor Ron Perlman, who looked like he’s stepped off from the pages of the graphic novel to play the lead role, also distanced himself from the franchise citing he’ll only work with del Toro. All this led towards a reboot, which happens to a glorious mess. The film is a mash-up of several storylines. The plot is so choc-a-bloc with characters and references that non-fans of the comic book would have a hard time knowing what they are seeing on screen. Everything is just thrown at the viewer without explanation. The film goes from one plot point to another rather randomly. Half-an-hour could have easily been chopped off without making any difference to the film. Hellboy is a red monster from chest up, but here we see him in different shades of pink, with some body hair as well. This deviation just doesn’t gel. There is also an attempt to fill him up with existential angst, just like the X-Men. But unlike the X-Men or even Bat Man, his self-doubts lack emotional coherence. And that, by and large, it’s the film’s main failure -- it lacks emotional depth and hence we don’t get to form a bond with the characters. His one true relationship, for instance, is with his adoptive father Professor Bruttenholm but the connection between them seems forced. It can also be because Ian McShane, who plays the mentor, kind of sleepwalks through his role. David Harbour tries hard to fill Perman’s shoes but somehow fails to measure up.
The one place the film truly scores is creature design. Baba Yaga is a truly disgusting monster and so is Gruagach. The giants are awesome and the creatures from Hell who come up when Hellboy briefly turns into a prince of demons are nightmares given life. If only director Neil Marshall has pursued everything with this kind of attention to detail, we could have enjoyed a vastly superior product. Instead, we’re left with a bloated product filled to the gills of CGI blood. We leave the theatre with a sense of what could have been...