Hellboy is an interesting discussion. One part comedy, another horror, another comic book film it can’t wait decide what it is. Sadly it excels at none and yet doesn’t miserably fail at any either. Instead it offers a run of the mill hero story set in an arcane world that is enjoyable but not special.
The comedy is there but some of the funniest moments were in the trailers and the first of two after credits scenes. David Harbour does a great job with the character and has some great lines but ultimately the film falls flat. As a movie that was marketed as a comedic superhero film it is light on the humor. I chuckled, smiled and laughed at a few scenes but was disappointed not to have any big laughs like I was expecting. My theater was relatively full and I heard scattered laughs at best from what looked to be a really funny film.
I’m not a fan of horror but I enjoy the arcane. Vampires, monsters, witches and the like are all enjoyable stories save for twilight. While Hellboy doesn’t Excel in this aspect, it is the strongest part of the film. The world that has been built and dark arts surrounding it are far deeper than the first 2 Hellboy films. The monsters were interesting, terrifying and fun all at the same time. A scene near the end of the story shows many monsters attacking and it was one of the best parts of the film. Likewise Hellboy’s fight against three Giants is a delight to watch and possibly my favorite part of the entire movie. I absolutely loved seeing him dodge, get pummeled and deal out his own beating to the Giants.
His fight with the Giants and all other action sequences are wrought with blood and gore. This tone for the film was a welcome addition however it was over the top at times. Some of the sequences offer up shock value for the sake of shock only. I’m a fan of gore but it was highly overused to the point that I was surprised when something didn’t have gore. I fully expected Hellboy’s every punch to lead to an explosion of an enemy head or a massive hole to be punched through their abdomen. It was when I expected this that the gore was too much and detrimental to the story.
The third aspect of the movie is that it is a Superhero movie. It does an ok job here but it’s generic in every sense. The hero is faced with a difficult choice, falters and chooses the heroic path as opposed to using their power for ill. It’s not an inherently bad story but it’s been done before. Further, the villain, Nimue/The Blood Queen, was poorly written, directed and acted. Milla Jovovich tried her best to pull off a British accent but it slipped enough that it drew me from the story. The writing of her witch character was nothing short of bland. The essential motivation behind her character is to bring monsters into the world for no real reason other than she doesn’t like humans. They try to show this idea that monsters are treated poorly and thus humans deserve to be killed but it never really lands. Films like Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther are a shining examples of how to make the villain relatable and the stakes high at the same time. Hellboy makes the stakes high but the overarching reasoning behind it is empty and thus makes the story shallow.
As mentioned previously, David Harbour does a fantastic job with the character. The look and personality of Hellboy are top notch and preferable to the originals for me. Where Ron Pearlman’s version was extremely immature and childish, Harbour’s take on the character is witty, charming and hot tempered. They share enough similarities to both be valid takes on the character but are different enough that it doesn’t feel like a rehash of the originals. The supporting cast do a passable job with their acting but the characters themselves aren’t exciting aside from Ian Mcshane’s Professor Broom. From the 2004 Hellboy we had Liz and Abe where here we have Alice and Major Den Daimio. Neither are awful characters but they are both forgettable. Alice’s powers are interesting but the relationship between her and Hellboy is not executed well. The story itself gives them a decent backstory but it is told so haphazardly that their connection is never truly felt. Major Daimio is the worst of the trio with no redeemable personality traits and major trust issues that aren’t explained well enough.
Hellboy doesn’t get a lot right but it is a mostly fun ride. The titular character is charming, funny, well cast and well acted but the supporting cast is ultimately boring, Mcshane of course being the exception. The action sequences are exciting and a ton of fun but the gore goes so over the top that they lose some of the what makes them special. The story is generic and villain lacks any real motivation despite bringing apocalypse level stakes to the table. I ended up enjoying Hellboy but I’m not going to rush to the theater to see it again. If a sequel is lucky enough to come out, I would see it however I won’t be begging for it. If you enjoy going to the theater, check it out. If you are more choosy with your trips to the movies, skip Hellboy and see Shazam instead. Hellboy isn’t going to bore you to tears but it isn’t going to wow you either. It’s sadly not what I was hoping it would be and yet it wasn’t as terrible as some reviewers lead you to believe. Hellboy is a middle of the road movie plain and simple.
2 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a throw pillow!!!