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Hellboy Review: Hell No, Please Don’t Go

 

Hellboy is the story of a monstrous gruff cambion (David Harbour) who fights for the good of humanity against the forces of evil as a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D). When a plan is uncovered to resurrect the vile sorceress Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), Hellboy finds himself at a crossroads of allegiance as a child of two worlds—a member of a society that fears him, and his true demonic origins.

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What works in Hellboy is Harbour’s valiant attempt to portray an interesting version of the character and his overall look. Hellboy was previously played with much critical acclaim by Ron Pearlman (Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army), and Harbour does his best to take the brooding monster in a different direction. This iteration gives audiences a Hellboy filled with conflict and anger, and generally, Harbour handles the range of emotions fairly well. He also looks great. The makeup and prosthetics team put incredible detail into the aesthetics of Hellboy so much so that Harbour is nearly unrecognizable.

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While Hellboy’s title character, and the rest of the supporting team, are very well cast, the film is an absolute mess both narratively and visually. Perhaps Andrew Crosby’s (Eureka) script was simply overly ambitious trying to weave together too many stories, or director Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones, Westworld) was over his head directing a large-scale big budget feature, but very little in Hellboy makes any sense. Relationships and motivations are incredibly ill-defined if not downright confusing, and the plot advances clunkily leaving gaping holes in its wake. For example, characters consistently just appear in new locations with no real explanation of they got there or why the locale is significant. The entire experience smells like it really craved to be a sweeping fantasy/sci-fi epic but got swallowed up in its grandiose plan.

Some of the plot missteps might be glossed over if any of the other visuals looked as good as Hellboy himself. Instead, the CGI characters are atrocious, and they are numerous. Trolls, witches, fairies, and even anthropomorphic warthog (that has way too much screen-time) are embarrassingly bad, looking dated by about a decade and a half. Furthermore, Marshall clearly wanted to show off his horror background through the use of gore but in ways that are both incredibly pointless as well as unnecessarily grotesque. Near the of Hellboy, monsters appear for a mini rampage in a city just to mutilate humans for a few minutes (for revenge reasons, maybe?) and the sequence includes a close-up shot of two winged imps messily ripping a person in half. Who needs that?

Hellboy clearly had a desire to launch a new series of films geared towards a more mature audience of people who enjoy more fantastical elements in their stories. Unfortunately, with a nearly incomprehensive narrative, convoluted script, and lackluster special effects Hellboy should probably stay in the depths below.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Seventh Son, Jupiter Ascending, Blade Trinity, R.I.P.D.

FINAL GRADE: D

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