Movie revivals can be a difficult feat, especially if the original was a big success. And when it comes to resuscitating something like a movie series, the audience will always end up comparing one director’s work to another, something I am personally guilty of.
Famous filmmaker Guillermo Del Torro was the director of the first two “Hellboy” films, and he has a very distinct style in terms of directorial vision. Many of the characters in Del Torro’s films are known for having elaborate, stunning costumes and makeup that make them look fantastically surreal.
I couldn’t help but measure Del Torro’s work to that of the filmmaker Neil Marshall, the most recent “Hellboy” director. I assumed that the possibilities within the makeup, costume and special graphics realm of the entertainment industry would be at their best. Unfortunately, all of these areas were lackluster in this new take on the red, fictional beast and other accompanying characters.
Of course, with a different director comes fresh, individual taste and creative vision, but I didn’t find this modern outlook to be very awe-inspiring. The tone of the film seemed sporadic; for starters it’s rated R, but not so much because of its language, but because of all the unnecessary blood and gore. Many of the gruesome scenes were overdramatized and in slow motion, as if alluding to some 3-D quality.
Aside from the violence was the film’s humor, which, when done right, can help break up the bloody scenes into something more palatable, but it came off as forced and made the brutal parts seem campy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for satire, but there were times where it felt overdone in this film.
The opening scene of the movie is in black and white to signify the past, but mixed with the slaughtering of the witch character, Vivien Nimue the Blood Queen, played by actress Milla Jovovich, it made me feel like I was watching a spinoff of the movie “300.”
The opening scene is obviously a crucial part to the story, as the Blood Queen is cut into several pieces and then subsequently, each body part is placed into an individual chest that is locked by a holy seal. The witch’s limbs are then kept apart and hidden, because the Blood Queen is most powerful as a whole being.
Hellboy, world’s greatest paranormal investigator and superhero based of the Dark Horse Comics and played by actor David Harbour, is always in the face of action, fighting off vampires, giants and secret societies that are either out to harm him or the world. Along the way, he discovers that Nimue the Blood Queen has been put back together with the help of her supernatural servant.
The Blood Queen wants to put an end to the hate and mistreatment of mystical beings by literally raising the dead, unleashing hell and serving up a deadly plague on all of mankind. While Hellboy attempts to stop her, he is given a vision that prophesies himself as marrying the Blood Queen and ending the world as we know it. Along the way, he accumulates an arcane group of sidekicks: Alice, a spirit medium, and Ben who can turn into a man-eating jaguar of sorts.
What’s more interesting, is that the inspiration behind the plot of this version is the tale of King Arthur and Merlin the sorcerer, which I don’t recall ever being brought up in the two older versions. Descendent of King Arthur himself, Hellboy’s mother ended up marrying a demon in hell and together they conceived Hellboy, which, ipso facto, makes Hellboy a direct descendent of King Arthur.
Hellboy was born with the strength to extract King Arthur’s famous weapon, Excalibur, from the stone that it has been lodged in for centuries. Not only that, but Excalibur also happens to be the only weapon that can defeat the evil Blood Queen.
Although Hellboy looks like Satan himself, he is technically half-demon half-human, and despite his strong demonic nature, Hellboy is able to look within himself and unlock his true potential of being a moral human being. In the end, Hellboy defeats Nimue, which in turn puts an end to her evil army and plague, but the paranormal happenings don’t stop there.
Before the closing credits, we see Hellboy fighting more with his new and trusty sidekicks, and as they fight their way through the bad guys, they stumble upon a water tank, and then suddenly, a webbed hand slams against the glass of the water filled enclosure, hinting at which well-known character to expect in the proceeding film.
Overall, I don’t think that this new take on “Hellboy” was awful, but nor did it leave me feeling utterly amazed. Like all things, there is room for improvement and a finer eye for detail, though it had enough action to keep my attention. The cliffhanger at the end that semi-introduces another character has left me feeling hopeful for the next installment, and I look forward to seeing what kinds of hell will be raised then.