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Review: Hellboy – “Disappointing and boring.”

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I have loved Hellboy since I read the first issue of Mike Mignola’s comic book. I have since bought the first few Library Collection Editions and have been slowly picking up the brilliant BPRD hardback collections.

Then we had Guillermo del Toro’s two Hellboy movies, with Ron Perlman in the title role. While they did make some changes from the comic book, I always felt that Perlman was brilliant in the role and it all looked gorgeous. I was always sad that they never got a chance to finish the trilogy.

What I am trying to say is that I am a big Hellboy fan.

When it was announced that Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Game of Thrones) was directing a new take on the character, with David Harbour (Stranger Things) as Big Red, I was excited. I thought this would be a great team up and a chance to take Hellboy back to the beginning. Throw in Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dai Kim, and Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson, well I was really looking forward to it.

Then I watched it….What a disappointment.

We are thrown into the middle of a story that was not clearly told. Hellboy lost a close friend (who we had never seen before and have no feelings about), there is a pig monster going around getting the various body parts of an ancient witch who we learnt about in some lengthy exposition and why are we meant to care about any of it?

This Hellboy is apathatic and doesn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. He just gets told to go somewhere or gets taken to places.

The big bad of the piece just….and I am already forgetting what it was all about as it just did not hold my attention.

It felt like they had cut together a film from 4 or 5 other non-existent Hellboy movies. They had done a Justice League and introduced lots of other major characters in one film without us learning about them organically in other films. Even though I knew many of them from the comics I was still at a loss in places. They talk about things as if we should know what they are referring to. Even with all the exposition, and there is a lot of exposition, you are still baffled by some of the events going on.

The whole thing was just disappointing and boring. A Hellboy film should not be boring!

It should have been focussed on Hellboy just doing a mission that simply involved beating up a load of monsters or stopping a magic user from calling up a demon or something. The first film in the reboot shouldn’t have had the whole BPRD and a world-ending threat. The giant hunt scenario at the beginning of the film could have been the full movie. Take your time, introduce just a couple of supporting characters, then have Hellboy off in the wilderness exploring dark forests and haunted castles. Tease things, set up future storylines, do what Mignola did in the comics and then have it pay off further down the line. Go full Marvel and do some separate BPRD films to introduce other characters and then bring them together later on.

To be honest, there was potential. Some of the makeup is great, although I did feel that David Harbour was often having to fight his way through the prosthetics to give his performance, and the creature designs are creepy.

It does smack of studio interference in places and I just wish they could have told a smaller story and told it well.

It is such a disappointment as I do love Hellboy. Sadly I cannot recommend it and maybe just see what you think of it when it hits a streaming channel at some point in the future.

Hellboy is on Digital Download August 9 and DVD, Blu-Ray™, 4K UHD, and Steelbook Editions August 19.

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