Playbomb Reviews: Hellboy (Spoiler-Free)

Director: Neil Marshall 
Main Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian Mcshane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action-Adventure
Movie Run Time: 2hrs

Review Read: ~ 5 mins

I walked into Hellboy with the knowledge of the existence of bad reviews. Being a huge Hellboy fan, I was adamant in watching this reboot wanting those reviews to be wrong. I wanted to see for myself what is redeemable and condemnable about the movie. When I walked out of the cinema, I was filled with a mixture of excitement, and surprisingly, apathy of what’s to possibly come because Hellboy (Disappointingly) wasn’t all that great.

It is unfair to compare this new reboot to the two previous instalments by Guillermo Del Toro. What the reboot was going for in terms of the mood and stylistics is very different than Del Toro’s umbrella of creative genius for this movie. The reboot focuses on more action scenes with a gory skin while following more of the comics; it seems like character development and storytelling are secondary elements with Ian Mcshane’s Professor Broom spewing out exposition after exposition on Milla Jovovich’s Nimue, also known as the Blood Queen. Del Toro’s version of Hellboy on the other hand, has a focus on developing characters like Hellboy himself and the relationship between Broom and our titular character.

The reboot goes for gorier action sequences and writing closer to the comic books.

The direction for the character development of our protagonist is contrasting between the reboot and Del Toro’s franchise. Del Toro’s Hellboy focuses a lot on his struggles to save a human race who hates out devil-looking hero so much, but he still chooses to do it because it’s the right thing. The reboot does touch on this subject, but very lightly, and is more tell than it is show. David Harbour’s Hellboy adds on to that development by bringing in the subject of growing up – specifically how an individual should learn to decide for his own while going through the phases of his “manhood”. Although an interesting take, it’s disappointing in its execution because it didn’t feel like it was executed well. Too much talking, to little cinematographic showing.

It is unfair to compare Harbour’s Hellboy and Perlman’s Hellboy.

It is also unfair to compare David Harbour’s Hellboy to Ron Perlman’s counterpart. Although similar in their character’s personality, they differ in their general day-to-day attitudes. David Harbour’s take is a more vulgar individual with an “I-don’t-care-but-I-have-to” attitude; Ron Perlman’s more similar to that of a hero like Shazam or Deadpool. That said, David Harbour was a good decision on the reboot’s casting. He was able to hold the spirit of Hellboy pretty well in comparison to the source material.

We finally have Daimio and Alice on screen – that’s a good thing!

The bigger upside of the reboot is that Hellboy as a superhero comic is finally getting more exposure to the general public. On top of Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman from the Del Toro duology, we finally have Daniel Dae Kim’s Ben Daimio, and Sasha Lane’s Alice Monaghan to grace the big screen. With the introduction of this reboot, there is room for improvement in the balance of its writing, storytelling, and action scenes.

We hope the next installment would be better.

Hellboy is not a bad movie or a movie failure, it’s just a movie that has committed mistakes in its writing with hopes to please fans of both the comic books and lovers of Del Toro’s take. Because it has to live up to the genius of Del Toro’s storytelling, the reboot has been made to seem like it’s a long shot for the beloved franchise, thus becoming a commercial failure. In reality, the reboot is still one that is trying to find its footing and, if studios and time permits, would learn from its past writing mistakes in future sequels to come.

For more reviews on Superhero movies, check back Playbomb Reviews.

Joey Leong

Joey is the founder and author of Playbombreviews.com. He is a firm believer for video game and movie journalism in Singapore. Studying in Singapore University of Social Sciences and pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature, he considers himself a renaissance man for visuals, words, and music.
  • jleongzw@gmail.com

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