Hellboy – 2019

Director Neil Marshall
Screenplay Andrew Cosby
Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church

Story: In this reboot, Hellboy is a little more out to the world than he’s been allowed to be in both of the previous films. He’s up against a Blood Queen Nimue (Jovovich) who wants to unleash the powers of the dark and needs a little help to do so.

There is no Abe Sapien this time and thankfully no sign of Liz Sherman. No pet cats either (boo!). We do have a grittier Trevor Bruttenholm (McShane). Sasha Lane is an adoptive niece who comes to understand she’s more powerful than she understands. Ben Daimio is a militaristic member of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense with a couple of secrets.

Harbour is actually really good as Hellboy. He makes the character within the lines that Perlman draws, but he also makes it very much his own. There is much more nuance with fewer annoying characters to bounce off of in this rendition. He’s at least on par with his incredible predecessor.

Antagonists: Jovovich is a beautiful dark presence who wears evil from the inside out. Her mission is a familiar one, but at least its entertaining to see her come together. Gruagich is her hog like henchmen and he looks goofy and terrifying both. Baba Yaga is another legend brought to horrifying life, albeit in another dimension.

Artistic value: There is so much carnage, it feels less fascinating and more dangerous. While the above baddies are well drawn and look incredibly vile, the rest of the monsters of the film are predominantly computer generated. Some are decent, like the battle with the three giants due to creative use of editing. Nothing here approaches del Toro’s work outside of Hellboy’s vintage lived in look.

Harbour’s performance brings out the most of the character. Given he doesn’t have to pine over a terrible character through the film certainly helps.

Cringe worthy moments: The deluge of creatures at the end look about as real as a cartoon. It’s the biggest failure of the film. There is a big cat that makes an appearance too, and it’s tough to look at this and not think of Jumanji. The 90’s one. Not good.

Rating (***1/2 out of *****)

Hellboy – 2004

Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans, John Hurt

Story: A Nazi plot is overturned by the good guys in WWII, in the process unearthing a young Hellboy, who is adopted by the U.S. Government into a program run by Trevor Bruttenholm (Hurt).

Cut to present day, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense has more members, including Abe Sapien (Jones), Liz Sherman (Blair) and Agent Myers. The actors of the Nazi plot are back, too.

This is the role Perlman is meant to play, and before I saw Harbour, I really could not picture anyone else doing it besides him. He’s able to convey the hard edge and soft center at once. You could see how his Hellboy could kill demons and love cats all in the same day.

Antagonists: Roden as Rasputin is elusive and creepy. He unleashes Sammael, who is bulky, allowing Hellboy plenty of opportunities to beat the hell out of something when we discover he can be replicated.

The real menace to the story is Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, who pushes undead to an extreme. His role provides a real terror to the story.

Artistic value: There is a lot to love about this film. The mixture of real and digital is excellent for the time. There seems to be a weight behind the battles. Abe Sapien and Perlman’s Hellboy give the viewer a glance of the beauty of the grotesque. Jone’s is del Toro’s all-star, showing up as many characters, each uniquely horrible and captivating.

Cringe Worthy moments: Most of the interactions between Liz Sherman and HB are tough to take, particularly since Blair’s inability to act rivals that of Sean Young. The only time the movie lacks realism is when the two are bickering back and forth. Tambor’s casting is a mistake, too. His constant chastising adds nothing worthwhile. Rupert Evans serves no purpose except to irritate our hero by giving his desired girl someone else with whom to go out.

Rating: (**** out of *****)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – 2008

Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton

Story: A crown is broken into three parts by an Elvish King Balor after the creation of a horrible army of Golden Robots. His intent to save the world from its power is subverted by his son (Goss). His daughter (Walton) escapes to seek the help of the Bureau, in particular Abe. Johann Krauss (MacFarlane) is brought in to help corral Hellboy, who is not enjoying domestic bliss with Liz.

Antagonists:  Prince Nuada Silverlance (Goss) is pretty tame, especially when compared to the rest of the creatures we see in the delightful Troll Market. His little teeth monsters are right out of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. They aren’t even the strangest teeth we see in the film.

His cave troll, Mr. Wink, is straight up del Toro. His look is friendly and menacing at once. It’s hard to figure out if you want to hug him or run in terror.

Abe next to a big set of dentures.

Artistic value: So many incredible creatures, lead by Angel of Death with eyes on her wings.
Perhaps the most inventive is Krauss, who is contained in a suit unless he needs to be free to move through the next road block.

No one can make creatures live like del Toro feel so alive, terrible and gorgeous at once.

Cringe worthy moments: The entire prologue should have just been limited to the artwork of the Elves. Young Hellboy is horrible, looks like Howdy Doody and should never have been shown on camera.

Aside from this, every thing that is bad about the first film is just as bad here, absent, Evans’ worthless agent Myers. Del Toro’s talent is not being able to guess what his audience would find adorable or funny.

Perlman is great in every respect outside of his constant arguing with Liz. He looks a little too clean at times for someone that is the Joe Six-Pack of demons, but his personality fits the character like a glove.

Rating: (**** out of *****)

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