“Hellboy” is inferior to its predecessors

Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer

Guillermo del Toro’s two Hellboy films from 2004 and 2008 feel like they were made too early.

It was not often in a pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe landscape for a director with the artistic level as del Toro to adapt a comic book to screen, let alone one as somewhat obscure as Hellboy, who belongs neither to DC or Marvel, but to third-party publisher Dark Horse. But despite both films underperforming, critical acclaim was heaped upon them both by fans of the comics and critics.

But unfortunately, Hollywood only really follows the box office, and due to their underperformance and no studio wanting a third Hellboy film by del Toro, we have this reboot 11 years later. The result is a somewhat entertaining entry that aims for something different than what del Toro was going for, which is both its greatest strength and biggest problem.

Under the red skin makeup and wielding of the right hand of doom is David Harbour of “Stranger Things” fame. He’s one of the highlights of the film, as is the makeup; he does a respectable interpretation of the character and would be the definitive Hellboy if it wasn’t for Ron Perlman’s perfection from the previous two films. He is the top agent for the B.P.R.D. – Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development – a spin-off FBI division which fights supernatural threats. He has been an agent ever since he was summoned from hell by the Nazis back in 1944 and raised by Professor Broom (Ian McShane), who found him that night and heads the organization.

Hellboy’s mission this time: to stop Nimue, the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), from destroying humanity after she was killed by King Arthur and his Knights back in the Dark Ages after she led a war against him. To assist in this mission, Hellboy decides to bring along Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), who has magical abilities from when she was saved by Hellboy after she was kidnapped by Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), who can turn into a jaguar when angered or in pain, as a baby.

The film is directed by Neil Marshall, best known for making horror films such as “Dog Soldiers” and “The Descent,” as well as filming several action-heavy episodes of “Game of Thrones.” That experience benefits the film’s creature effects and violence. The R rating gives the film a brutal, angry edge that the previous Hellboy films didn’t have. And the quality of visuals, though not as imaginative as the Troll Market scene from “Hellboy 2,” are still top notch for a cheaper budget.

But where it falters is with its characters. Though the film is visually similar to many scenes in the comics, the characters – besides Hellboy – and story are either boring or broken at a fundamental level. The best parts of the movie are the action sequences, which are thankfully plentiful. The best scene from del Toro’s pictures were from part two where Hellboy and Abe Sapien sing a Barry Manilow song about love while drunk. And that’s because those films realized the best part about Hellboy and his universe are the characters.

This is undeniably an inferior film to del Toro’s pictures, but it’s definitely not one of the worst superhero movies out there. Check it out if you’re interested, but if you want to truly experience Hellboy at his best, see the other two films or read the comics.

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