Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Watch in 4DX or Heckle at Home

April 14, 2019

Written by Fox Emm

Fox is a freelance writer and editor whose work can be found on several sites (bloggingonward.com, gorestruly.com, wickedhorror.com, and this one!) She's a movie, comic, book, and tech reviewer and overall horror fiend. Pet enthusiast. X-files fan. Small sentence writer. Her multi-author horror anthology is out on Amazon: https://getbook.at/badneighborhoodpaperback
The Hellboy films by Guillermo del Toro sought out to humanize monsters. His character portrayals were softer and relatable. Hellboy by director Neil Marshall and writer Andrew Cosby instead created a genuinely fun, weird adventure. Hellboy’s filled with blood, gore, bad jokes, and killer visuals. The film aspired to blaze its own trail from the beginning. Telling the Hellboy story differently was the goal. I sought out a different experience as well and saw the film in 4DX. 4DX is a motion picture technology which adds environmental effects. Seat motion, wind, rain, scents, and lights accompany a standard audio and visual movie. The technology debuted in 2009 in Seoul, South Korea. The tech hit the U.S. in 2014, and this would be my first experience with it.
The movie takes the obligation to share origin stories seriously. It does what it can to make a new place in the minds of the audience. The opening scene sets the stage for the evil witch Nimue (Milla Jovovich) by establishing her ties to King Arthur and Merlin. Hellboy as a film doesn’t have the luxury of multiple films which helps give the characters depth. (As we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Establishing characters and their relationships had to be accomplished in a single two-hour span. For fans of the Hellboy comic, this is fine. For them, the characters draw from the source material. Extensive backstory isn’t required. The downside of this is viewers who aren’t as familiar with the comics feel somewhat adrift. The movie launches several origin story narratives. The movie picks bits and pieces from numerous comic arcs. The result is a film which feels like it’s being tugged in too many directions. Rather than tell one story well, it feels as though it is setting out to tell many stories at a very surface level. In so doing manages to avoid telling any of the tales completely.

hellboy with fire sword

 

 

 

“Shallow” is a consistent descriptor, not only for the plot but for the characters. We never get to go deeper than the surface. The Hellboy portrayed by David Harbour for Neil Marshall’s vision is younger than audiences are used to seeing. We are accustomed to Hellboy having boyish elements. He has a smart mouth, a questionable sense of humor, and a complicated relationship with his father. This version felt off. This rendition felt more like a mashup of Wolverine and Ash Williams than Hellboy. The jokes were rapid fire and rarely hit their mark. I know from Harbour’s work on ‘Stranger Things’ that he can be funny. In Hellboy, it was less his delivery or the writing, and more the fact that in most scenes the comedic timing was off. Whether that is the result of direction or recorded lines being slipped in after the fact, it’s difficult to guess.

 

 

Baba Yaga from Hellboy is nightmare fuel

 

 

Alice Monaghan played by Sasha Lane was arguably the best-developed character. Her tragic backstory was reduced to a handful of flashback scenes. Through them, audiences were treated to a more focused character exploration. Daniel Dae Kim as Major Ben Daimio was fun to watch, he portrayed ‘grizzled military man’ well. His backstory wasn’t a secret to comic fans or anyone who watched the trailer but was still enjoyable. Baba Yaga stole the show in every scene thanks to the horrifying work of the FX team and actor Troy James. (Pictured.) The pairing of James’ movements with Emma Tate’s vocals made the character convincing and upsetting. There is no denying that Baba Yaga is nightmare fuel. Overall the characters felt consistent. This speaks to the strength of the actors and Andrew Cosby’s writing.

 

Though I won’t say Hellboy was a good movie it was a fun movie to watch. If it hadn’t been trying to accomplish so many different things, it might have been better. The plot didn’t drag and the fight scenes were fantastic. The practical effects were really impressive, and you’ll have to see the creature designs to believe them. This film didn’t rely too heavily on CGI, which is part of its strength and appeal as well. As horror movies go, this one definitely had the visuals down. That’s doubly important, given the film’s comic book roots.

 

 

Sign outside Hellboy 4DX

 

 

The 4DX experience improved the film greatly. Since the fight and action sequences were some of the best in the film. Having the seats buck and sway while “blood” (water) showered down each time someone lost a limb was truly a one of a kind experience. I think 4DX would make many ‘okay’ horror and action movies more enjoyable. I could see it being incredibly fun for slashers with a lot of blood/dismemberment. It could also help Godzilla or Pacific Rim sequels which are sure to feature explosions.

 

If you’d like to see Hellboy in 4DX you’ll need to do so quickly as it’s only available until 4/19 at the following theaters:

  • Regal LA Live
  • Regal Union Square NYC
  • Regal E-Walk – NYC
  • Regal Meridian – Seattle
  • Regal Avenues 20 – Jacksonville
  • Regal Pointe Orlando
  • Regal Warrington Crossings – Warrington, PA
  • Regal Naples 4DX – Naples, FL
  • Regal Gallery Place – Washington DC
  • Edwards Houston Marq’e – Houston, TX
  • Regal Stonecrest – Charlotte, NC
  • Regal Warren Moore – Moore, OK
  • Cinepolis Vista – Vista, CA
  • Cinepolis Pico Rivera – Pico Rivera, CA
  • CGV Buena Park – Buena Park, CA
  • Marcus Gurnee Theaters – Gurnee, IL

(List and details about the 4DX Showtime restrictions courtesy of Bloody-Disgusting.)

If you want my suggestion, go see Hellboy in 4DX. That’s where it’s at its best. Otherwise, it’s safe to wait until this one hits VOD – you might enjoy heckling from the couch just as much.

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