Hellboy 2019 is not the satisfying closing chapter in a wondrous and imaginative trilogy from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and star Ron Perlman. Not even close.
What Hellboy is is a raucous, chaotic, exposition-heavy reimagining that imagines a fantastical world inhabited by all manner of monsters, witches, demons, spirits and yes even King Arthur, but dialed to eleven. The blood and the brooding both come by the buckets-full, the action is frequent and fast paced, the blaring metal soundtrack feels stuck on loop and the parade of dingy digital effects never ends. Still, instead of walking out of Hellboy with a headache (which from the sounds of it, most folks did), I walked out with a dopey smile on my face.
Stranger Things‘ David Harbour is perfectly cast as the sarcastic, whiny B.P.R.D. (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) agent who fights to keep the unsuspecting world safe from supernatural threats. Ian McShane is just as good as Professor Broom, the head of the B.P.R.D. who adopted Hellboy as his son after a Nazi wizard summoned him to Earth with hopes he’d herald in the apocalypse.
This revelation and others fuel some pretty heavy drama between father and son and subsequently a couple captivating exchanges between Harbour and McShane. However, much like its titular hero, Hellboy never maintains focus on any one thing for too long.
That includes Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), who has been resurrected by a jaded Changeling named Gruagach (Stephen Graham) who’s looking to serve Hellboy up a cold dish of vengeance. Surprisingly enough, Gruagach boasts the richest arc in the film and Graham imbues his character with enough sympathy to turn what is otherwise a silly subplot into the most heartening through line of the film.
Milla Jovovich gives a tastefully hammy performance as the villainous Blood Queen, who wishes to end the oppressive reign of man so that monsters may once again roam free. Similarly to Gruagach, Nimue’s motivations are empathetic enough to get where she’s coming from; however, director Neil Marshall (The Descent) doesn’t dedicate much screen time to the Blood Queen beyond the obligatory bad guy speeches.
Sasha Lane tags along as Alice, a spunky medium who can commune with the dead, which comes in handy believe it or not when your job often entails interacting with the paranormal. Fortunately, Lane gets enough to do here that Alice becomes a welcomed addition rather than just a plot device.
Daniel Dae Kim reluctantly joins the band as Major Ben Daimio, a soldier with his own supernatural secrets. Ben goes on his own personal journey that helps elevate him above the average macho Joe from any number of group-centric action flicks.
It’s rarely a positive experience when a movie almost dares you at every turn to try to keep up with its basic narrative. That said, I enjoyed my time with Hellboy. The cast and their characters are fun to hang out with and the action is exciting and largely well shot. On top of that, I couldn’t help by appreciate the pure audacity of it all and Neil Marshall’s filmmaking.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of five)
Have you checked out Hellboy? If so, what did you think? Sound off in the comments below and let me know how this movie hit you!