Hellboy

Hellboy is back, this time under the direction of Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers). Rebooting with a new cast and revived characters, the Andrew Cosby (Eureka) script delivers a story that, while decent, may leave fans of the previous movies a little cold for its lack of character engagement.   Hellboy (David Harbour) is an agent of the Bureau of Paranormal...read more

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Reviewed by Steven Yoder
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Hellboy is back, this time under the direction of Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers). Rebooting with a new cast and revived characters, the Andrew Cosby (Eureka) script delivers a story that, while decent, may leave fans of the previous movies a little cold for its lack of character engagement.

Hellboy (David Harbour) is an agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, helping his father, Professor Broom (Ian McShane) against powerful supernatural entities that wish to do mankind harm. But, after a betrayal and subsequent rescue by his powerful, medium friend, Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), he doubts his place in human society. To complicate matters, Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) has plans to rid the world of humanity, using Hellboy’s power to do so. Caught in the middle, Hellboy must decide whether to save humanity or doom it forever.

The story is rather complete, despite a few hitches with its implementation. There are seemingly inauthentic interpersonal relationships, and viewers get the impression that they need to know more about several of the characters on both sides of the battle, including their preexisting motivations. The brief back-stories come across as more of an afterthought than actual development. This is especially true of Nimue, who after having her origins revealed in the opening scene, drifts in and out of the film just to be menacing.

The direction is clean, but a premeditated decision to make the film much like a comic book both helps and harms it. It romps along at a fun pace, but there are moments that are just too overdone. The decision to make the film rated R conceptually allows it to be more like the original comics, but in practice, it just appears to be an excuse to add more CGI gore. The CGI includes amazingly detailed creatures and settings. Most of the renderings are beautiful, although in some moments it overwhelms in quantity and pace. All these scenes have accompanying, accurately selected rock-and-roll music that you might expect Hellboy to be listening to while he smashes things.

When it’s not slightly over-the-top, the acting is excellent. Jovovich is sensually creepy, Lane is a strong sidekick, and McShane is gruff, grumpy, yet caring. The best of the crop, though, is David Harbour, taking over the mantle of the titular role, and wearing it hilariously well. He seems a near-perfect replacement from the start.

Hellboy’s biggest problem is that neither the original director nor lead actor return for the long-awaited third installment, but instead opt for a hard reboot. If audiences can put aside their disappointment in this respect, they might discover that despite some flaws, the film is worth seeing in its own right.

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