Reviews | Written by Grant Kempster 01/08/2019

HELLBOY

DIRECTOR: NEIL MARSHALL | SCREENPLAY: MIKE MIGNOLA, ANDREW COSBY | STARRING: DAVID HARBOUR, MILLA JOVOVICH, IAN McSHANE | RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 19TH

Once upon a time, Nimue the Blood Queen wanted man and monsters to live in harmony. Unfortunately for her, King Arthur and Merlin had other ideas, lopping off her limbs and head and burying them for all eternity. Until now. As the B.P.R.D.’s biggest asset, Hellboy, begins to struggle with his place in the grand scheme of things – killing what he increasingly begins to see as his own kind – Nimue’s appearance begins to call everything into question. Should he carry on being the demon-slaying lapdog or join with Nimue to fulfil his destiny?

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Everybody loves Del Toro’s Hellboy movies. The first is a masterclass in blending nuanced writing with action while the sequel is every bit the fairytale monster movie that has become the director’s trademark. While the returns might not have been enough to fuel a further sequel (although God knows the fans demanded one loudly enough), those two films presented the perfect elemental mix. Consequently, rebooting something so beloved was always going to be a hard task. You could almost say it was destined to fail. Well, you could say that because that’s exactly what happened.

It’s not all bad. Harbour is exemplary in the role. He embodies the character entirely without trying to copy Perlman’s incarnation and, while the face makeup is a little jarring, generally he cuts the most realistic Hellboy we’ve seen on screen to date. In fact, generally the practical monsters are all superb (with the exception of the walking warthog Gru who looks like he’s just stepped off the set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze). That’s where the praise abruptly stops. The direction and cinematography (especially during exterior sequences) is pedestrian at best. In fact there’s very little creativity visually which, frankly, the movie demands. Finally, with the exception of the ever-wonderful McShane and Harbour, everyone is horribly miscast (and let’s not even get into the sub-Don Cheadle, Ocean’s 11 British accents).

It’s a massive shame, as the extra features show just how much creativity and passion was poured into the production from the various crew. Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn is a superb behind-the-scenes documentary lasting over an hour, that really gets under the skin of Harbour’s performance and make-up challenges. It’s a fascinating watch and re-tells the production’s story so well that you almost want to give this iteration of Hellboy another chance (then you remember Daniel Dae Kim’s stilted butchery of the Queen’s English and want to burn the disc with hellfire).

Three deleted scenes give a fuller look at the opening flashback sequence on Pendle Hill, along with Hellboy getting sexy in a bloody shower with Queen ‘Scene-chewing’ Nimue who also appears in a sequence with her Pumba reject sidekick in a car park moaning about chewing gum not degrading. Finally, three pre-vis sequences are also available.

This disc presents a conundrum for hardcore fans of Big Red. The story itself is the closest to the source material in terms of narrative, yet visually it is perhaps the farthest from. That said, if you can drown out everyone else’s performances and just enjoy Sherriff Hopper tearing it up as Hellboy, this could still be worth your hard-earned money. Maybe.