Words Glenn Blomfield
This is the third instalment in the HELLBOY series of films, with first two Directed by Spanish auteur Guillermo del Toro. The visual flare of the gothic graphic novel that del Toro brought to life, is replaced by a bravado-all-things comic film. Director Neil Marshal has now taken the helm of HELLBOY. The English director of films like Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday, shows Marshall, likes his Horror and action, so it seems fitting to he direct HELLBOY. This new version, is a reboot, rather than a continuation of the old films. Playing HELLBOY is David Harbour who many will know as the Sheriff from ‘Stranger Things’.
I found HELLBOY very exposition heavy, characters telling the story past and present, and whatever else we need know, it just seemed so over necessary talky. Everything about this film is louder and bombastic, the title cards slam bold on the screen. The music is like a rock concert, just sweeping you up and moving you along, this is more a comic book movie just clunking its way along its narrative. I felt it didn’t flow, I wasn’t really getting into its groove. It felt like that I missed the ride and watching it sail on by. I will be the first to say I do not know the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, so I am not familiar with its style and characters. My point being, maybe I am missing out on a film that is more directed at ‘Hellboy’ fans who are well rehearsed in the ’Hellboy’ universe. I can only judge by what is on screen, and lets just say it wasn’t really winning me over.
David Harbour’s portrayal of ‘HELLBOY’ is a grimaced fully grown adult, but acts more like a teenager, rebellious and callous lout, who is not fully responsible of his actions. HELLBOY is a film where it loves to get carried away, there are plenty of action scenes for the sake of action scenes, lots of CGI at work, that may feel overused. To the the delight of horror gore fans, the gory blood letting and splatter is turned up a notch, playing more for comic book style, than for the fun of it. HELLBOY feels like a Harry Potter film, with all its Fantasy and Magic, and fantastical characters, there is even a Wizard thrown into the mix. The film is pitted up against a villainous sorceress (Milla Jokovich), who has hellbent intentions to weld HELLBOY to bring apocalypse on the world, and ‘yawn’ rule them all with her mighty power. Not exactly a gripping compelling story, as always with these comic book films it just seems an excuse and a bit lame, we always know the hero, HELLBOY in this case will not let this happen, he is going to kick some supernatural ass to save the day.
HELLBOY’s new reboot film, tries in earnest to win its audience, and it just may with the hardcore HELLBOY graphic comic book fans, but this is slim overall. HELLBOY can be a loveable rogue. I just found the overall experience a bit of a clunky, jumbled mess. The sidekick characters, for example Dad (Ian McShane) and Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), just didn’t have enough weight, they get lost in spectacle, for spectacles sake. It certainly is energetic filmmaking, and David Harbour does bring the fallible rogue charisma to the HELLBOY character, but it just isn’t an overall successful combination, well for me anyway.