“Hellboy” has returned to the big screen with a new actor, new writers, new villains. I miss the days of Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman. Anyway, this version is brought to us by Neil Marshall directing a script written by Andrew Cosby. David Harbour dons the red prosthetic pectorals and horn stubs in the lead role. Hellboy originated from Dark Horse Comics in 1993. He hit the big screen first in 2004 with Ron Perlman in the part under the superior direction of Guillermo Del Toro.
I will stipulate that the reservations I have about this version have little to do with Harbour’s actual depiction of the character. I think Harbour did the best he could. I just think it could have had a better plot. Milla Jovovich plays a medieval immortal sorceress who is dismembered with her various body parts buried and guarded by various secret societies all over the world for centuries.
I had not read the comics, but I did enjoy the Del Toro films. I was a little taken aback by the continuous dismemberments and blood splatter. I have a pretty stout skin when it comes to that, so I got used to it. There did seem to be more placed on the visual extravaganza than on the actual plot.
There was the usual between the heroic demon and his adopted father, played by the prolific and talented Ian McShane.
I guess I should summarize the background finally. Hellboy is a half-demon who was prophesied to take over the world with unimaginable fear and suffering, however he somehow was convinced by the tender care of an adoptive father to reject his more evil tendencies and work to protect us mere mortals from the supernatural as an agent for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
It’s an absurd concept as expected from a comic book series, so there is a lot of forgiveness that needs to be afforded on the outset. Th problem here is that the movie feels like it goes on forever. It falls short on coherence even for a comic book film. It just felt like a bit of a mess at times.
There were a few amusing one-liners but not enough to cover up the cracks in the writing. It has a talented cast which does keep it from being a complete disaster. It’s a film that doesn’t really sink to the bottom of the cinematic trash can, but it bounces around the rim a bit. Maybe the overall affection for the character of Hellboy by the fans will help it do well enough to justify another shot. Just because I was a little disappointed in this effort doesn’t quite mean that I will give up hope that a potential next installment will be an improvement.