Back in the 5th Century, a powerful sorceress named Nimue (Milla Jovovich), also known as The Blood Queen, led an army of monsters in a battle against humanity and released a plague on the world. But, Nimue was betrayed by a witch on her council and was beheaded by King Arthur with his sword Excalibur. Arthur dismembered the still alive Nimue, placed each of her body parts in separate boxes, sealed by a priest’s blessing, and scattered across Britain so she could never release her death plague on mankind again. Summoned from Hell in a last-ditch effort by the Nazis to turn the Second World War in their favor, Hellboy (David Harbour) was meant to be killed by agents from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). Instead, agent Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) raised the young demon into a man and used his unique abilities to fight the forces of evil. A couple of Hellboy’s enemies team up to find the pieces of Nimue and put her back together. They want revenge against Hellboy, but Nimue has other plans that include bringing the Apocalypse…and she needs Hellboy to make Hell on Earth a reality.
This reboot of “Hellboy” was doomed to fail. First, fans of Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 original are deeply loyal to that film and the two would inevitably be compared, with del Toro’s films always being the one preferred. Next, there’s David Harbour’s portrayal of Hellboy compared to Ron Perlman’s. Perlman is much more playful and lighthearted as the spawn from Hell, while Harbour is primarily angry and conflicted through the movie. Finally, there’s the story. According to the film’s Wikipedia page, aspects from four different Hellboy comics were used to create the story seen in the film. It’s an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach that doesn’t give the movie much of a chance to breathe, as it gallops through an enormous amount of exposition and CGI action scenes to arrive at a conclusion that is painfully obvious.
There’s so much going on in “Hellboy” I haven’t mentioned two major characters. The first is Alice Monaghan, played by Sasha Lane. She has a connection to Hellboy’s past and one of his past enemies. She’s important to the plot as she can contact and speak to and for the dead. It’s an ability the plot requires to be important at expedient times in the story. Despite how she’s used, Alice is a refreshing character. Her snark is one bright spot in an otherwise dreary movie.
The second is Major Ben Daimio, played by Daniel Dae Kim. Daimio is a member of Britain’s paranormal agency M11 and has large scars that look like claw marks across his face. Daimio doesn’t like Hellboy and puts plans into place to kill him. Daimio also has a secret that makes him a bit of a hypocrite. I feel a bit sorry for Kim. He was put in the role after Ed Skrein was originally cast then withdrew after he was informed the character in the comics is of Asian descent. I’m sure Kim is a very good actor as he’s been in a bunch of stuff I’ve seen. However, in “Hellboy,” he’s miscast as an aggressive, always angry Brit. Kim can’t hold on to the British accent for the whole movie. In one scene he ditches it altogether. While Kim can hold a fake military weapon believably, I just didn’t buy into his being a gung-ho soldier.
The tone of the film is dark and angry, a sharp contrast to the 2004 film’s lighter, more humorous take. Perhaps this is closer to the character from the comics, but it makes for an uninvolving and morose movie viewing experience.
“Hellboy” is rated R for gore throughout, strong bloody violence and language. There is blood, intestines, brains, decapitation, severed arms, legs, fingers, eyes poked out, bodies hanging from hooks, what appears to be insects causing people to disintegrate, bodies impaled on various things, etc. Foul language is common.
I don’t recall hearing anyone clamoring for a new “Hellboy” movie prior to learning about this film being in production or after. It arrived with a thud at the box office, only making $12-million in its opening weekend. That does not bode well for recouping its $50-million budget and for making any sequels. While it isn’t the horrendous mess the real critics claim it to be, “Hellboy” is a loud, overstuffed and unnecessary reboot that isn’t much fun.
“Hellboy” gets three stars out of five.
This week, I’ll be review “Breakthrough” for WIMZ.com.
Also opening this week:
The Curse of La Llorona—
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