‘Hellboy’ Review


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“Hellboy” has returned to the big screen! The comic book movie follows Hellboy, a half-demon who works for the BPRD, a highly intellectual organization that battles supernatural threats. As Hellboy’s investigation ensues, an evil plot becomes a reality. The Blood Queen, defeated by the legendary King Arthur years ago, is ready to walk the Earth. Thus, it is up to Hellboy and his BPRD associates to stop the Blood Queen from unleashing her pandemic potential. Sounds exciting, right? Well…think again. This comic book tale is massively disappointing.

“Hellboy” is directed by Neil Marshall, a filmmaker widely known for “Dog Soldiers” and “The Descent.” Marshall has always excelled at combining character depth and unrelenting entertainment. In the case of “Hellboy,” we get some visually impressive scenes, meant to look like one take conflicts. Certain sequences create brilliant renditions of Hellboy’s mythology. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t live up to its potential.

“Hellboy” sells its soul for fantasy/horror spectacle. Character depth is thrown to the wayside, and in turn, we get ever changing forms of spectacle, admirable at times. The special effects help capture the beautiful and expansive nature of comic book writer/artist Mike Mignola’s world. But often times, the special effects are shoddy, which proves that the film bit off more than it could chew. David Harbour, hidden under impressive makeup and prosthetics, plays Hellboy. Like the rest of the performers, Harbour is extremely monotone, and the end result is a repetitive film, devoid of emotional progression and versatility.

I feel sorry for these performers; they are trying, but when dealing with a poorly constructed script, a performer can only do so much. Due to the unemotional drama, the film’s action is numbing. It’s a shame, because in general, the action is handled with care. Simply put, if we cannot connect to the characters, the action does not matter. There has to be some substance.

“Hellboy” is chock full of exposition. We are constantly being told large bits of information. This cinematic entry feels more like an educational course than a feature length film. It’s almost as if we are receiving a comic book lesson from a disorganized educational staff, focused on delivering repetitive lessons that lack passion and fluidity. Exposition is a part of storytelling, but as audience members, we do not need to know every little detail. Certain things can be shown to us. By using information in fresh and exciting ways, the cinematic experience becomes unpredictably satisfying, not exhausting.

After going through heavy doses of exposition, we get the anti-climactic showdown. The third act should be a high point of any film, but in this case, it is one of the low points. The conflict is extremely dull, because it isn’t memorable. “Hellboy” attempts to provide a defining moment for the titular character and his father, but the scene lacks emotion, due to the underutilized relationship. We are expected to accept this emotional scene, even if the rest of the film fails to naturally focus on the relationship. Unfortunately, the characters are so shallow that any sense of accomplishment feels meaningless.

I cannot recommend this film. It reinforces the fact that Guillermo del Toro’s earlier films were blessings. The early Hellboy installments were highly organized forms of storytelling, crafted by a master storyteller and supportive studio. Like the angry mob in James Whales’ “Frankenstein,” many comic book fans will be furious with this most recent Hellboy creation. Quite frankly, I am amazed that such a project can be wasted so badly.

My Grade: D

Dillon McCarty can be contacted at [email protected]