Like a Bat-Sh!t Film out of Hell (Hellboy review)

Hellboy is a comic book character created in 1993 by Mike Mignola. After two films by Guillermo del Toro, this R-rated reboot combines the brilliant design of the previous entries with bad language and an unbelievably excessive amount of gore. Though it’s riddled with plot holes and story issues, the film is also confident to be utterly bonkers. By breaking the monotony of comic book adaptations to offer something different, you can almost forgive it’s narrative sins.

Hellboy tells the tale of…Hellboy (funnily enough), a Demon and paranormal investigator for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence (B.P.R.D.). After discovering an Arthurian legend is true, he must team up with his allies to fight an evil queen who is intent of plaguing the world so monsters can rule supreme. Though this is the basic plot, the makers decided to cram it full of extra narrative tangents and character motivations, and this is the key weakness of the film.

David Harbour, of Stranger Things fame, plays Hellboy, and he is amazing. His gruff ironic sense of humour and grumpy demeanour are really entertaining to watch, and combined with some fantastic makeup effects, he utterly becomes the character. Accompanying him are Milla Jovovich as Nimue, the Blood Queen and Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s adoptive father. Other characters include semi-witch Alice Monaghan, played by Sasha Lane, supernatural military man Ben Daimio, played by Daniel Dae Kim, and my personal favourite: a scouser hog-like fairy voiced by Stephen Graham. His lines are some of the funniest, and stupidest in the film, and him calling Hellboy a “red-faced twat” was a personal highlight.

The script is something of another realm. I can’t believe something so badly written led to something so entertaining. It’s littered with the most ridiculous lines, some favourites being “you have such nice eyes, yellow as piss”, “that’s not my uber” and “I don’t think we’re gonna work out because I’m a Capricorn, and you’re f*cking NUTS”! The confidence to put such stupid lines into the action was reminiscent of the 80’s classic’s and this made the film very entertaining. Honestly, this is a $50 million B-Movie, and if you accept that, you’ll have a great time watching it.

The opening five minutes of the film set up the rest of it perfectly. The Arthurian legend is explained by Ian McShane in a particularly sweary manor, while Sin City-like graphics show how Nimue was defeated by King Arthur. With blood-red standing out against the black and white picture, it promises the fact that blood and violence will be a key part of this film, with Hellboy standing out against the backdrop of normal humans fighting the bad guys.

The action, gore and violence has been met with polarising responses, and this I can understand. The fight scenes are messy in their choreography, but they are also so bonkers in their design that they become cool. A particular highlight sees Hellboy fight off three giants single-handedly. If that wasn’t enough, it’s done in a faked ‘one shot’, PLUS it is underscored by ‘Psycho’, a kick-ass song by Muse. It was awesome. There is so much blood and guts spewed throughout this film, and it is completely gratuitous, but it’s heavily stylised, and quite often is actually done for comic effect.

Overall, Hellboy isn’t quite as bad as everyone is saying. It’s ridiculous, the script is all over the place and the narrative is very messy, with the climax being slightly underwhelming. However, you can see every penny of the $50million budget being used on screen to deliver a truly bat-shit bonkers film, with great characters, ambitious special effects and some brilliant design. It’s a B-Movie at its heart, breaking the monotony of Comic Book adaptations with something different, and for that, you can’t blame it.


Oh, and there are Nazis and Love Island references in it too… ENJOY!

5 stars 3

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