Release: April 12, 2019
Director: Neil Marshall
Screenplay: Andrew Crosby based on Hellboy by Mike Mignola
Starring: David Harbour as Hellboy, Milla Jovovich as Vivian Nimue the Blood Queen, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, and Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio
Running Time: 121 minutes
I’m going to keep this one fairly short and spoiler free. Hellyboy, as a picture, is a victim of the MCU. The trailer for this picture clipped together two minutes of in progress CGI shots and every corny one liner from the film’s two hour running time in an effort to sell it as some sort of post-Avengers MCU-lite flick. It was a bad a trailer that was roundly criticized by the denizens of this great black abyss we know as the internet, and with good reason: it looked bad. Bad, actually is underselling it; it looked abysmal. Hellboy most certainly didn’t look like the kind of flick that anyone with even the smallest modicum of brain functionality would want to see, and I certainly was no exception here. I was content to never give this flick even the most cursory of glances, and I would have remained as such if the esteemed owner of this site had not specifically asked me to check it out. During production, this adaptation of Hellboy was routinely touted as something that was going to be much more in line with the 1990s comic series that birthed the character, so it was understandable that when we got a trailer that sold it as essentially Avengers: Hellboy, it ended up being a fantastic flop of a film.
Thankfully, yet also unfortunately, Hellboy is not, by the longest of shots, the film that its trailer was sold. Yes, there are some attempts at one lines, most of them fall flat, but there is never that Disney tween sitcom, pause profligately for audience laughter feel that the Marvel Whedonverse exhibits. Tonally, Hellboy strikes something of a balance between the corny, Guilermo Del Toro-helmed films from the mid to late 00s and the original comics that spawned the character. The story is entertaining, and somewhat familiar, revolving around a resurrected medieval witch attempting to use Hellboy as an instrument to bring about the apocalypse. The cast do great in their respective roles, though the character of Alice Monaghan can come off as a tad annoying at times. David Harbour was a great choice for the titular role of Hellboy, and it’s kind of unfortunate that the film flopped so hard that, realistically speaking, he probably won’t be returning for a second outing. The high contrast lighting, which calls to mind Mignola’s noir-tinged artwork on the original comics, and over the top grotesque monster designs yield a film that is also quite fun to look at.
In the end, Hellboy is an enjoyable picture that was the victim of a bad marketing campaign. A marketing campaign that proves how desperately trailers need to change. I won’t be surprised if Hellboy achieves a cult following over the next few years. It definitely deserves it. Give it a spin when you’ve got the free time.