Delightfully Chaotic: Our Review of ‘Hellboy’ (2019)

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - April 11, 2019
Delightfully Chaotic: Our Review of ‘Hellboy’ (2019)

Some of these things…we’re never supposed to be like the other ones so stop your bitching…

Hellboy (2019) doesn’t bare any resemblance to the Guillermo Del Toro films of the past and has been somewhat reinvented as a conflicted foul mouth ass kicker in a story that isn’t afraid to lay out the blood and the gore in a practical effects throwback of an era gone by.  This is less about the mythology and more about kicking monster ass…and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

Hellboy (David Harbour) comes to England, where he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world.

While the character development is minimal with LOTS of exposition, there’s no denying that yes, Hellboy is a bit of a mess, it’s a gleefully unhinged one and when you embrace that essence in the film it’s an incredible amount of fun when you allow yourself to enjoy the trashy action/horror styling’s of it all.

Putting aside the stories of a troubled shoot aside for one minute, you can tell from minute one that this film was leaning more on the stylings of Mike Mignola and the original Dark Horse comic book then that of the cinematic interpretations that came before it.  Director Neil Marshall has an uncanny knack for making films that aren’t about the pomp and the spectacle of the story but rather focusing on those things that go bump in that night with a healthy splattering of blood and lots of heavy action.

It’s a trashy B-Movie grade action horror flick, which is what it was TRYING to be.  Filled with lots of great looking practical effects (and some questionably CGI ones), Marshall and his team are setting us up for a frenetic ride from beginning to end which is exactly what we get.

Sure it touches on some valid thematic issues in the script from Andrew Cosby which feels a little rushed at times and plays out imperfectly at others but it’s hard to genuinely deny that there is honestly something to it all.  You can easily nitpick the lack of (or rushed) character development in the film but the reality is we honestly didn’t need all that much of it because the people that this film is catering towards already has a lot of the story and the minutia of the characters committed to memory.  The film plays to a genre crowd that already knows what is going on and is fairly forgiving when it drifts into moments that it doesn’t know what it’s doing as long as we get back to monsters, blood and a healthy dose of action and mayhem.

While some of the physical similarities between David Harbour and Ron Perlman are impossible to deny, you can’t question that he is a great choice to step into the role.  Harbour takes Hellboy and still gives him a tortured introspective quality as an action hero, but he successfully gives less of a fuck then we expect and also allows the character a certain joie de vivre as we follow him killing vampires and getting thrown around by giants.  As much as he cares about being accepted by the world around him, he’s not changing for anyone and still has a clearer sense of right and wrong then some of the ‘secret societies’ around him that are trying to rid the world of ‘evil’ but ultimately became evil themselves.

Milla Jovovich is OK as the Blood Queen and while she has a couple of rigid moments and is forced to act around some questionable CGI, you can tell she’s having some fun with the role.  Meanwhile Ian McShane can chew the scenery with the best of them while Sasha Lane (of American Honey fame) and Daniel Dae Kim add some fun balance to the overall film and complement Harbour’s performance quite well.

Ultimately, Hellboy is a chaotic ride, but loudly and proudly so.  Just get a big bucket of popcorn and throw up some devil horns and enjoy the madness of it all.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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