Welcome back folks! We’re taking yet another detour from the schedule, in part because I didn’t get around to Titanic: The Animated Movie and partly because the new Hellboy flick in theaters really isn’t 1 out of 5 fodder – despite what the reviews say. Minor spoilers abound
- Lobster Johnson, in-universe “The Lobster”, appears in briefly in a flashback to Hellboy’s origin story. His appearance is as badass as it is short, and demonstrates the general public relationship to comic book flicks has changed over the last 15 years: when the original movie came out in 2004, the character was cut because putting a costumed pulp hero into the flashback was seen as asking too much of the audience. Today? He’s the leade character in the same tale.
- David Harbour turns in a good performance as Hellboy, a man conflicted about his role in hunting monsters when he is himself a demon from the pits of hell.
- Milla Jovovich is delightfully hammy as Nimue the Blood Queen, who’s about as mentally stable as you’d expect an immortal who has spent centuries cut into pieces and locked in boxes to be.
- With major appearances by Lobster Johnson, Ben Daimio, and Alice Monaghan (the latter two playing a major role in the plot) lets Hellboy have a comics-accurate supporting cast that’s completely separated from the version seen in previous movies. This avoids the major issue with comic book movie reboots, wherein the same few characters and concepts keep getting retreaded over and over.
- The movie desperately wants Hellboy to be the next Deadpool. Hellboy is not Deadpool, and as such a lot of the “funny” moments fail to land and the gore/grotesqueries seem more gratuitous than natural.
- The pacing is more akin to that of TV series, with exposition giving way to an action beat giving way to a reveal/twist giving way to the set-up of the next cycle thereof. It’s not badly paced, per se, but reminded me far more of those old VHS tapes that would edit two or three related episodes of a TV series into a “movie” than a traditionally created flick ought to.
This movie isn’t that great. It certainly is fated to lack the cult classic staying power of the Guillermo del Toro -helmed flicks and was never going to do well enough to get a sequel – the pacing is weird for a movie, it doesn’t know exactly what kind of movie it wants to be (gritty, violent fantasy story or Deadpoolesque comedy), and while all the performances are well done, there’s nothing particularly stand out.
But it’s not 15% positive bad, so your friendly neighborhood comic shop counter guy suggest you stream it or catch a matinee if you dig on the Mignolaverse. This will likely go down in history as the Amazing Spider-Man of Hellboy movies – good, not great, with potential that it will never be explored.