It was around the 25-minute mark, which is when Hellboy finishes fighting off an army of high-class British assassins right before he has to fight off an army of flesh-eating giants, that I was ready to declare my undying love for this movie.
It’s very on brand for me, I know, but I also really don’t care. Give me all the Hellboy sequels, please and thank you.
From The Descent director Neil Marshall, Hellboy is a new take on the Dark Horse Comics character that first emerged in the 1990s.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Hellboy on the big screen, of course. In 2004, Guillermo del Toro directed his own Hellboy film (which is great), which was then followed up four years later with a sequel entitled Hellboy: The Golden Army (which is decent).
For the longest time, del Toro promised a third Hellboy movie, too, but he and the studios got into a disagreement over the film’s budget (I remember del Toro asking for, like, $180 million to make it) and the thing eventually fell flat.
As much as I would have liked to see that final Hellboy movie from del Toro, I’m not really complaining anymore because this Hellboy is kind of awesome? Like, it’s really *really* dumb, but that’s kind of why it’s great?
Most of us know the origin story of Hellboy at this point, of course.
With the Germans on the brink of defeat during WWII, a couple of Nazi’s retreated to an island far off the European coast to partake in some supernatural experiments that they hoped would change the fate of the war.
They were ultimately defeated by Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) and the rest of a secret government organization known as the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), but not before they summoned something up from the depths of Hell, first.
That something is Hellboy (David Harbour).
Despite having the physical appearance of a demon, Hellboy was raised by Trevor and grew up to be a decent person — at least, in a literal kind of sense. He’s still as reckless as they come and won’t hesitate to start a fight with anyone who looks at him in any kind of unnatural way, but it’s not like he’s on Earth trying to do the work of Satan or anything like that.
Instead, he was raised to hunt and kill monsters — many of which have a lot of striking similarities towards Hellboy himself, which he begins to realize more and more as time goes on.
He doesn’t have to do it alone, though. Along with Trevor and the rest of the B.P.R.D., he also works closely alongside a young psychic named Alice Monaghan (American Honey and The Miseducation of Cameron Post’s Sasha Lane) and a tough-as-nails military enthusiast named Ben Daimio (Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim).
While Hellboy has been going along with Trevor’s antics for years, a new threat that threatens to set the world ablaze and then forces Hellboy to seriously question his place on this planet eventually emerges.
That threat’s name is Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) — an evil witch who dates all the way back to medieval times. While she was defeated by King Arthur and Merlin at the time (I am 100% serious), she was recently revived by a hog-fairy (again, 100% serious) named Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham) and is now ready to take vengeance on the entire world.
And then, there’s a whole bunch of other random things that are just kind of thrown in here or there. Like, that army of assassins and giants I already told you about really doesn’t have to do with anything related to the plot, nor does the half-luchador half-vampire that Hellboy fights at the beginning of this movie, nor the demented witch who comes straight out of Howl’s Moving Castle and invites Hellboy to dinner before making out with him…
I could go on and on, really. This movie is kind of all over the place — which, again, is why it’s kind of brilliant.
Before we go any further, let me say that I completely understand the negative reactions that some people — okay, most people — are having towards this movie. Hellboy is made for a very niche audience, and those who go into it expecting something similar to del Toro’s films are going to be horrified by what they find.
That’s because what they find is something that’s ultra-gory, ultra-gruesome and ultra-vulgar, as this thing is a non-stop bloodbath that feels like a mix of Evil Dead and Silent Hill, with some Underworld and, dare I say it, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in there to boot.
That all creates for a wildly entertaining ride that feels true to what Hellboy is meant to be — a horror-based comic. We’ve seen some comic-book adaptations include horror elements before, sure, as Blade, Spawn and even Venom played into those ideas. All those movies come off as pretty goofy, though, while this take on Hellboy feels like something that’s actually made for the sweatiest of the sweaty horror fans out there.
It’s not perfect. In fact, this film probably falls more in line with being a guilty pleasure rather than some kind of misunderstood masterpiece. While the performances are pretty good overall, the chemistry between characters is often undefined, awkward and out-of-place.
The bigger problem is the story, or maybe, the lack of one. It might just be the film’s overall frantic pace, but Hellboy’s plot quickly jumps around from place to place without giving any reasoning or definitive consequences as to what we’re seeing. That helps play into the fun, 80’s kind of vibe this thing has going — I mean, King Arthur is in this movie for Christ’s sake (and it’s even a better King Arthur movie than The Kid Who Would Be King, too!) — but it’s still a bit of a mess nonetheless.
Harbour, though, brings a lot to the role. A lot of the humor in Hellboy doesn’t work nearly as well as it should, but Harbour brings a lot of that Stranger Things energy into this as he looks like he’s genuinely just happy to be here, which is a lot of fun to watch.
Jovovich, meanwhile, is exactly what you’d expect her to be. Her character is pretty underwritten and two-dimensional, which is then met with some over-the-top and somewhat cringe-worthy speeches and monologues from the Resident Evil actress (that being said, they still should have named this movie Hellboy: The Blood Queen, as they initially said they would, just to avoid confusion with del Toro’s film).
Del Toro’s first Hellboy still is the better picture, too, as Marshall’s adaptation just doesn’t capture the same kind of affection for the characters and the monsters that Guillermo brings. Yet, I found myself having an undeniably good time watching this movie. Yes, it probably could have used a few more rounds of script editing, but I’d way rather see something like this rather than the same old Marvel formula for the 30th time (even though Captain Marvel boasted some new ideas, it still fell prey to that trap).
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, this movie won’t work for a lot of people and I get that. There’s a select few of us out there, though, that this movie was made for — and hopefully, that number will continue to rise so that we can someday get a sequel.
Watch the trailer for Hellboy here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
'Hellboy' - Let's raise some hell [REVIEW]7