I’ll be honest, as I sat down to watch Neil Marshall’s Hellboy last night, all of the negative feedback I have heard over the past few months had me expecting a complete failure of a film. Luckily, that’s not what I experienced. In fact, I found it the complete opposite.
While the rest of the franchise looks bright and elegant, this movie is more gritty, darker. And to be honest, I like that. We are talking about a big red demon here.
In the movie we find Hellboy fighting everything from humans to witches to big boars. There’s nearly non-stop action, but that’s not the main point of the movie in my opinion. Hellboy is struggling with identity, his purpose in life. His struggle mirrors the duality of man, part good, part evil, part man, part beast, a struggle that’s been the foundation of many epic films and stories for centuries. While it’s obvious Hellboy was created for evil, to bring about the end of the world, he’s much more. He’s also a caring entity that wants to protect those he loves and mankind. By the end of the film, he knows who he is and I hope to see his journey continued.
“Stranger Things'” David Harbour plays the big red guy this time around and does so well. Besides being completely badass, he brings out Hellboy’s human side. He seemed to be struggling to find his footing a few times, appearing too campy on not campy enough, but it did not ruin his performance.
Ian McShane plays the role of Hellboy’s father, what’s not to love about McShane? Hellboy’s sidekick Alice, a powerful psychic, is played by Sasha Lane, who rolled with the punches and threw a few of her own. Hellboy gets saddled with Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) who not only doubts Hellboy’s intent but also struggles with his own secret that turns out to be a great asset in a fight. My only disappointment with the cast is that we didn’t get see more of Milla Jovovich as Nimue.
There are a ton of special effects in Hellboy and most of them were well executed. It did bug a bit that in the Abbey scene there were several bodies and heads that weren’t on par with the rest of the film. They look like something you’d buy at Wal-Mart at Halloween (sorry). However, I was very impressed with Hellboy’s makeup and really liked the demons at the end of the movie. They were disturbingly realistic and twisted (bravo to the sfx team). Oh, I also have to mention Baba Yaga, she was sick! Her twisty, skeletal body was fantastic. So creepy! And that lip lock (*gags)! She is awesome!
As for the story, I was pleased. It’s complex, yet simple enough for any horror fan to follow. It has a depth that I didn’t see coming, but writer Andrew Cosby really killed it. The internal struggle of Hellboy really is on point, but there are so many other things going on with Jovovich, McShane, Lane, and Kim’s storylines as well. It all came together beautifully.
Time for my verdict. Hellboy is a fantastic adaptation that really has a depth most superhero or anti-heroes don’t get. I found it occasionally disgusting (in a good way), and entertaining. I’m going to give it a 4 1/2 out 5. If you can see it as a stand-alone film not to be compared to the other films of the franchise, you will enjoy it. It’s fun, violent, bloody, and entertaining. Luckily, you won’t have to wait long to see it for yourself, it arrives on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD on July 23rd, from Lionsgate.
4K UHD / BLU-RAY / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
- “Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn” (3-Part Documentary)
- Deleted Scenes
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
- Deleted Scenes