Saturday, April 13, 2019


Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy was a flawed film whose biggest asset was the casting of Ron Perlman as the gruff Hell-spawn destined to end the world, but in the meantime work to fight off monsters and things that go bump in the night for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, originally created by comic writer-artist Mike Mignola. Fixing some of the mistakes from his original film, the director went back the drawing board delivering the superior Hellboy II: The Golden Army four years later, but for more than a decade the character has been confined to the comic page (and some straight-to-DVD animated releases).

Director Neil Marshall's reboot is a joyless exercise, despite some impressive (and almost always gory) visuals. David Harbour, now cast as the hard-drinking big red hero out to save the world, lacks Perlman's charm that helped cut through the character's dickish behavior. What's so sad about the finished project is that there was obvious understanding and love for the character and universe Mignola created as screenwriter Andrew Cosby squeezes several well-known characters into the story including Nimue (Milla Jovovich), Baba Yaga (Troy James), and Benjamin Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), among others.

The plot (maximized to better effect in The Golden Army) involves the human world treating Hellboy like shit while the monsters offer him a kingdom to rule by the side of the resurrected witch Nimue, after her defeat centuries ago by King Arthur (Mark Stanley), who wants to wipe the human pestilence from the planet. To drive home the point just how out of place Hellboy is among humans, the film involves multiple allies literally stabbing him in the back. Despite all this, the film never really sells Nimue's offer as genuine (or something Hellboy would except, particularly after his old enemy Baba Yaga attempts to sell the idea of Hellboy joining with Nimue). The lame duck plot thread of the henchmen out to kill the hero who the main villain needs also creates plenty of unnecessary plot issues as well. The ending, while offering the best visuals of the movie, is a forgone conclusion which is as disappointing as the rest of the script and its lackluster execution.

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