Oh crap. Pardon my language, but that’s probably what Hellboy himself would have said if he’d seen the opening prologue of his latest movie.
A shoddily tacky sequence narrated with hilarious (and foul-mouthed) bombast by Ian McShane, it shows the downfall of the evil witch queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich). Betrayed by her own coven of witches, she was cut into pieces by King Arthur (who looks like he just stepped off the set of Monty Python And The Holy Grail) and sent to the far reaches of the earth to prevent her from rising again.
Fast forward to the present day, we have Hellboy travelling around the world solving paranormal cases and smashing a lot of stuff along the way. You don’t become the World’s Best Paranormal Investigator without making a few enemies, and two of Hellboy’s old enemies, an ancient witch called Baba Yaga and a demon warthog named Gruagach decide to band together, and before you can say “Hakuna Matata”, the blood queen is resurrected and wreaking havoc on the world.
It is now up to Hellboy and his BPRD chums – a spirit medium called Alice (Sasha Lane) and BPRD agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim with a British accent that sounds like the kind Malaysians get after a three-hour transit in Heathrow) – to save the world.
As ridiculous as it all sounds, the plot is actually taken from one of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s longest and most epic storylines in the comic book, which spanned three volumes – Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and the series-ending The Storm And The Fury. There are also fan service nods to other elements from the Mignolaverse, including a sequence based on Hellboy in Mexico and also the appearance of the legendary hero Lobster Johnson (Thomas Haden Church).
While the story worked fine on the comic book page (mostly thanks to Mignola’s highly stylised artwork), somehow it doesn’t quite translate as well on screen. Or maybe it just needed the deft touch of someone who is more familiar with making the outlandish seem believable, like say, Guillermo Del Toro.
That’s not to say director Neil Marshall (Game Of Thrones) does a bad job though. That painful prologue aside, he actually delivers a pretty wild ride that has its fair share of great moments. Most of these moments work thanks to the performance of David Harbour, whose Hellboy is a younger version of Ron Perlman’s in Del Toro’s films, and portrayed as a petulant man-child with daddy issues and a temper to boot.
It’s a shame Harbour didn’t get a more, well, refined movie to work in though. Plot-wise, Hellboy suffers from trying to cram in too much of the comic book’s story, resulting in a bit of a mess at times.
For the most part, the movie plays like a horror B-flick (complete with shoddy CGI), which in some ways, adds to its charm, but can also get a little jarring at times. And don’t even get me started on how the characters can seemingly get from one end of the Earth to another in literally no time at all.
“Hey Daniel, I think we’re… Lost.”
In case you were thinking of bringing kids to the cinema to watch this, please don’t. Marshall really dials up the gore on this one – gallons of blood splatter, splurt, and gloop gratuitously throughout the movie as characters swear, cuss, smash, crash, slice, dice, and rip each other apart with gleeful abandon.
It makes the first Hellboy seem like kid’s movie, which is ironic, since that particular version was hilariously renamed Super Sapiens in Malaysia for fear of offending people.
For all its considerably glaring flaws, Hellboy does provide a mindlessly fun distraction that should make fans of the character happy. After all, what more did you expect from a movie about a big red demon with sawn off horns and a giant stone right hand?