When I started writing this post, I was all ready to go on a rant about the lack of originality in cinema these days and how reboots and remakes are saturating the market; but then I took a closer look at my previous posts and of the twenty-two that I have written so far, only two of them are actually remakes! What’s more, only five of them are sequels or part of a franchise. That means that I have actually watched and reviewed fifteen original movies in the last four months…
….so there goes that argument 🙂 🙂
That being said, the overall feeling of sameness is still there and it does taint my anticipation of future releases and this is definitely something that happened with Hellboy.
One the one hand, I was worried that a new Hellboy was never going to live up to the unique styling of Guillermo Del Toro in terms of storytelling and visuals. On the other, Mark and I couldn’t get through an episode of Stranger Things without declaring to each other, at least once, “David Harbour will make an excellent Hellboy”.
Side note: If you’ve never seen Stranger Things, you’re missing out.
Couple my internal to-ing and fro-ing with the many negative reviews that I have tried not to read, and I’m walking into the screening saying a silent prayer to the cinema gods; ‘Please don’t f**k this up’.
Hundred years ago, way back in the Dark Ages, England was at war; the humans led by King Arthur (yes, really) fought with supernatural beings led by the Blood Queen, Vivian Nimue (Mila Jovovich). The film starts with what appears to be a truce between the two sides but is actually a trap and using his trusty sword, Excalibur, King Arthur defeats Nimue, although he did not have the power to truly kill her. To prevent her resurrection; her body was cut up into several pieces, placed into chests sealed with a holy bond and hidden throughout the land.
Flash forward to the present day and we are introduced to our hero, Hellboy (David Harbour), a demon raised by a human (Ian McShane) and working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence; a secret agency whose purpose is to keep the human world safe from, and ignorant of, the supernatural world that is hidden just below the surface.
This delicate balance is threatened when pieces of Nimue start to resurface; Hellboy is tasked with trying to stop her. But there are other forces at play and Hellboy needs to tread carefully…
Remember that feeling as a kid, when you were on the roundabout in the park, screaming to go faster and faster, until you reach your limit and beg for it to stop…. that’s what watching this film felt like. The storytelling is a little weak and the plot jumps around so erratically between characters and locations, the past and the present that it is incredibly easy to get dizzy and a little lost.
Unfortunately, the main villain was also a little disappointing. I do believe there was some potential with where they wanted to go but, ultimately, Jovovich was the wrong choice and the film suffers because of it. No disrespect to Jovovich but, for me, she gives the exact same performance in every one of her roles. There are so many more versatile actresses out there, that could’ve taken this character to a level that the fans want to see.
Another bug-bear of mine was the over-exaggerated accents used by certain characters, and I don’t mean just your stereotypical over-the-top posh ‘proper’ English accent but also some of the local dialects too. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but, to me, it felt a little pantomime-y. I would actually love to hear your thoughts on this. Was it just Mark and I, or did you notice it too?
Although the overall film was a little disappointing, there were a lot of positives throughout.
First off, this film benefits massively from its age 15 certification (the 2004 Hellboy was a 12A), there is a lot more violence and gore throughout this film which really steps it up a notch. Whilst some of the CGI may be a little questionable, overall it packs a punch visually.
With the exception of Nimue, the villains were actually done quite well. The interpretation of Baba Yaga (Emma Tate. Troy James) was, according to Mark, spot on with the comics and a little terrifying; one scene in particular almost made me throw up a little (sorry for that image). The fight scene with the giants was action-packed and bloody, and a later scene involving a rather large number of demons was hilarious in a somewhat sick and twisted sort of way.
I was also quite please to see that they didn’t try to replicate the same team as the original Hellboy but instead introduced us to new characters; Alice (Sasha Lane) and Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim). I was quite pleased to see that, instead of the usual romantic relationship we see Hellboy in a more platonic brother-sister relationship with Alice. But don’t worry his prickly banter with Major Daimio is more reminiscent of the Hellboy we know and love.
Putting all these points aside, the one thing that matters the most is that David Harbour played an EXCELLENT Hellboy. Dare I say it, but I may even go so far as to say that his interpretation is better than Ron Perlman’s, and considering the poor material he had to work with, that really is saying something.
Overall, I am looking forward to seeing where they go next, especially as we are teased at the end with a teeny-tiny glimpse of Abe, who was, by far, my favourite character in the 2004 Hellboy. I am curious to see who they will cast to play him though, as it will be incredibly difficult to replace the brilliance of Doug Jones.
Have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts?