Synopsis: When Hellboy is called upon to hunt Giants in the English countryside he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue, a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal.
Review: Having missed it at the Cinema. I figured I’d take a look at Neil Marshall’s take on Hellboy and see if it was really as bad as most of the reviews said it was. And the answer to that is yes and no.
The film starts off in the past and sees King Arthur, Merlin and a few Knights fighting Nimue. Arthur cuts Nimue into pieces with his legendary sword Excalibur and puts the pieces in boxes and cast them to the four corners of the Kingdom. This five minutes worth of backstory sets things up for a big reveal that comes toward the close of the movie. A reveal about the origins of Hellboy.
After this backstory, the film comes to present-day where Hellboy is trying to find his friend who turns out to be a Demon, which is pretty messed up. The story doesn’t really get going until Hellboy is called to England in order to Hunt some Giants with a secret society called Osirus. Only it turns out that this society wants Hellboy dead because they believe him to be the bringer of the end of the world.
While all of this is going on. Gruagach a boar-like demon is slowly finding the various pieces of Nimue with the help of some Witches and is slowly putting her back together again. From this point on the film becomes a bloodfest of gruesomeness and gore as Hellboy, Alice, and Major Ben Daimio race against time to put an end to Nimue.
David Harbour puts in a solid performance as the titular character of Hellboy but does not manage to pull it off with quite as much charisma as Ron Perlman. This version is edgier and I’m not sure if that edginess may be hindered Harbour from being able to bring a bit more charisma to his portrayal. That said he does a good job with what he is given and is likable, but maybe not as much as the 2004 movie version that Perlman originated.
For me, this movie is a win for the supporting cast. Sasha Lane is fantastic as Alice, who gets a hell of a lot to do and even has her origin story revealed in the film, which also sets up Grugach’s arc and his motive for revenge against Hellboy. Alice is a high powered psychic and a perfect foil for Hellboy when it comes to banter. I was also impressed with Daniel Dae Kim and his rather plum English Accent as Major Ben Daimio, who has a secret and a mission of his own.
This was not a brilliant film, but it wasn’t awful either. Neil Marshall was always going to have an uphill battle in putting a movie together that could garner as much love and support as the original Guillermo del Toro films did. That said he gives it a fair go but falls short. Because this version is so much edgier and darker it kind of lacks the B – Movie whimsy and fun that Guillermo del Torro’s originals had.
The gore and violence in this version is unrelenting and gets in the way of there being too much in the way of nuanced character beats.
The storyline and the Arthurian Legend that is woven into the plot of the film is interesting and one of the things I liked most about the film, but there wasn’t really a great deal of it. And the reveal of Hellboy’s late mother being a descendant of royalty was nicely done.
The movie has a decent soundtrack, but I did at times have a little difficulty hearing some of the dialogue due to the soundtrack getting a bit too raucous. Most notably the parts where Hellboy was speaking in Latin.
The films action beats were thick and fast and the CGI was a bit of a mixed bag if honest. As in overdone.
Overall. Neil Marshall’s Hellboy probably isn’t as bad as many made it out to be. It had a few elements that I enjoyed such as the Arthurian legend, which was cleverly tied into the film. And the actors all played their roles well. It’s a film I’d probably re-watch, but I doubt it will get as much play from me as the original two films.
- Incidental Music8.1