Rob Reviews "Hellboy"
To be asked to follow in the footsteps of Guillermo Del Toro is not something that a lot of directors are willing to do. The guy has amazing vision when it comes to stories supernatural in nature with everything from “Blade” to “Pan’s Labyrinth” and even won an Academy Award for “The Shape of Water”. His “Hellboy” films were also received well, but because we have to reboot EVERYTHING, “Constantine” director Neil Marshall is given the keys to Mike Mignola’s franchise (with Mignola co-writing the script) and Ron Perlman is replaced by “Stranger Things” star David Harbour.
Retelling his origin story in flashback, Hellboy is found as a young child by Professor Broom (Ian McShane) and raised to be a weapon to save the world from monsters as part of the BPRD. His power and will are challenged however, as an ancient evil witch named Nimue (Milla Jovovich) is resurrected by a hog/fairy hybrid named Gruagach (Stephen Graham) who will bring forth the end of the world. Hot on her trail, Broom and Hellboy are joined by psychic Alice (Sasha Lane) and a jaded major named Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) to help keep a plague that will wipe out humanity at bay while Hellboy learns what (and who) he really may be.
I have gotten to the point in my life as a geek that even though I am fully stoked that a lot of the stuff that I got picked on as a kid are cool and making a ton of money (we truly HAVE inherited the Earth), I have to separate myself from a film or television series’ marriage (or lack thereof) to its source material. This film seems to be getting MURDERED by critics in general, but I truly enjoyed “Hellboy”. I purposely did not re-watch the previous two films before screening this one so I could do as little comparisons to Harbour and Perlman as possible, but I felt Harbour brought more of a human element to the character. Even his prosthetics are a bit scaled back in comparison, giving Hellboy a “softer” look. This to me is more of a true origin tale as even though he has been doing what he does for a while when the story takes place, he is also getting to know himself and his destiny at the same time. There may not be the characters that fans of the other films will recognize, this film still stands on its own well. I laughed when I was supposed to laugh and gasped when I was supposed to gasp. At a solid two hours, the story does move along nicely but does flirt with getting overtold. The visuals lead to some SERIOUSLY graphic violence, but I did know that was the intent going in, so that did not bother me either. They get a little jumpy here and there, but it never got to that point where I wanted Lionsgate to spend more money on a better effects house.
From a purely entertainment standpoint, “Hellboy” does what it is supposed to do: tell a story that has horror, superhero, and comedic elements to it in a way that is fun and engaging with a really cool soundtrack. I think it’s high time that we take our “not my Hellboy” hats and throw them to the side if for no other reason that Mignola has his name on this one, so if it passes the muster of the guy that created the doggone thing, we should on a certain level be cool with that.