In Director Neil Marshall’s spirited action fantasy “Hellboy”, adoptive Father Professor Broom, played with whimsical gravitas by Ian McShane tells his Son, “I wanted you to be the best you…” David Harbour’s Hellboy, the hulking prosthetically horned, red-skinned beast, acknowledges his Father’s love in tears. No spoilers here. After all, Dad is human. Hellboy, well he’s some other distinction.
The dramatic arc resonates genuine poignancy. Yet, seems so out of context, like much of “Hellboy”. “Hellboy” often gets lost in the narrative abyss.
Based on Mike Mignola’s source material – Dark Horse Comic Book “Hellboy”, Neil and Screenwriter Andrew Cosby reboot the beloved 2004 movie starring Ron Perlman as a narrative quandary. David Harbour embodies the irreverent sense of humor and charisma in a wonderful homage to Ron Perlman’s Hero beast.
But like I told my buddy Ron, after we both watched the movie, “That was all over the place.” “Hellboy” is an unfocused mess. WTF? Too bad.
Not just for us, but also for the cast. Beautiful commanding Milla Jovovich is beguiling evil as The Blood Queen, Nimue. Hers along with David’s Hellboy inspire strong performances from feeble material.
In the prologue set in 1540 or so: Omniscient sorceress Nimue prepares to unleash her deadly plague on the world; thus, ending humankind forever. However, she’s vanquished by stalwart King Arthur, played by Mark Stanley, and sorcerer Merlin, played by Brian Gleeson. To dissipate her immense power they literally chop Nimue into pieces, foreshadowing Neil’s macabre resurrection visual, and bury her parts at the ends of the Earth.
Hellboy works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) fighting the “dark forces” like Giants. He’s a superhero of sorts. He has great speed, strength, and fighting skills. He also possesses a huge mysterious metallic right hand.
Professor Broom and Hellboy work together at the BPRD. He virtually raised his son there. Returning from a mission, Broom gently grooms the horns on his son’s brow. As corny as that looks, it’s sublime. Regardless of blood, they’re family. They love each other unconditionally. That is the singular saving grace of “Hellboy”.
Eventually, conspiracy consumes. Predictably, the evil Nimue returns from wherever, and seeks revenge. Surprisingly, she seeks Hellboy as well. Although handsome is not Hellboy’s strong suit, Nimue is passionately drawn to the muscular red beast. Perhaps, it’s his wry sense of humor? Maybe, it’s Hellboy’s lineage according to eerie villain Lady Huttom, who reprises Hellboy’s origins and discovery by Professor Broom.
Meanwhile, to save the world from Nimue’s apocalyptic intentions, Hellboy joins forces with Alice, played by young spirited Sasha Lane, and soldier Major Ben Daimio, played by calm strong Daniel Dae Kim. It’s on!
The bond of Hellboy and Nimue make “Hellboy” watchable, which isn’t saying all that much. David and Milla have engaging chemistry. They’re both strong, resilient, and don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, “Hellboy” does. Rather at times, Neil Marshall doesn’t have a clue what kind of story he wants to tell.
The visual effects in “Hellboy” are spectacular. Gruesome images of shredded and exploding flesh populate the screen. Then there are whimsical visuals of the Nimue’s limbs sewn back together or some vicious Giant swatting Hellboy like an insect.
“Hellboy” occurs as a funny, bloody narrative mess. Not in a good way. Again, too bad for David Harbour and Milla Jovovich. Really, too bad for us.