‘Hellboy’ review: Not quite a hell of a time

‘Hellboy’ review: Not quite a hell of a time

To put it bluntly, Hellboy is okay. It’s not Del Toro’s adaptation of the Mike Mignola comic books, if that’s what you’re looking for (there are two excellent Hellboy films to fill that void), it’s a piece of work much closer to the comics: it’s dark, it’s gruesome and it has more quips than you’d care to count. Oh, and it has Lobster Johnson.


The story begins on a dreary note, with a crow pecking at a plague corpse’s eye, while Ian McShane’s Trevor Broom exposits the events that led to Hellboy: The Blood Queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich) is chopped up into little pieces by King Arthur (yes, that King Arthur), but she swears vengeance, and instantly, we’re shipped off to the modern day where Hellboy (David Harbour), already a full-blown agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, is given a prophecy, setting off the events.


The biggest strengths of Hellboy, and ironically weaknesses, lie in the script. Though written by Mike Mignola and Andrew Cosby, there are quite a few holes to gape through in the way it is presented on screen. On the other hand, when the script does work, it serves to elevate the film to levels of creepiness and sheer bloody scale that the Del Toro Hellboy films could never have dreamed of achieving - a feat made possible by its target audience: adults.


The acting, for the most part, is passably well-done. David Harbour’s Hellboy could’ve used a more expressive face, but he is clearly in character throughout the film, be it squabbling with his father, getting into fights with the demon or haggling with Baba Yaga, David Harbour’s natural form never disappoints. Ian McShane is a man who needs few words, for he is the most convincing person in the entire scheme of things. The rest of the cast also performs well, including Daniel Dae Kim’s Ben Daimio and Milla Jovovich. Since her ‘Resident Evil’ films, Jovovich’s acting is believable for once, even though it was overdone at multiple points.


The effects work is a mixed bag. While the practical effects – of which there are many – are wonderfully well-done and bone-chilling to behold, the CGI is pretty much on the other side of the spectrum. Perhaps it’s a creative choice for the movie to be like a comic book, but the non-practical creatures look cartoony, even if they are designs that could feasibly inspire fear if they popped out of the ground all of a sudden.


"Is the movie bad?" It’s a tough question. On one hand, Hellboy does lack some of the finer touches you’ll have seen Del Toro craft so meticulously in his adaptation of the comic book, but on the other hand, the adult target audience does give the film a much bigger sandbox to play with. Though the sandbox was not used as well as it should have been, it does offer a film that you can use to pop in during a slow weekend.


Director: Neil Marshall

Cast: David Harbour, Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich

Score: 3/5