"Hellboy" Review

Updated on May 14, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University


Hellboy has drawn in some animus from the critics' community, and frankly, I think critics have missed this one by a mile. This movie is Fun with a capital 'F.'

Critics tend to have a set of criteria in their heads that a movie needs to meet in order to qualify as passable. Hellboy certainly isn't awards fodder, but it is not due for a Razzie either. It hits all of the appropriate beats that a Hellboy film should with the exception of a few unnecessary elements.

It sucks that the weak areas of filmmaking in Hellboy are getting illuminated, when the operative term for this movie is that it is 'fun.' There are things I would neuter from this overstuffed origin story, and there is some choppy editing. But overall, it was an exhilarating watch.

There are some visual mechanics on display that are very sophisticated and well done. Some of the character aesthetics were impressively crafted (Baba Yaga, for example), and there is some stylized violence that is both savage and sublime. I also like the swelling strings on the electric guitar overlaying the epic, larger-than-life battle scenes. Maybe this comes from my staunch rock music fandom, but those scenes really beguiled me as a viewer.

David Harbour commanded in his role as the title character melding together Hellboy's beastly nature, his softer sensibilities and his smart-alecky attitude. Admittedly, the rest of the main cast can't manage to keep up or stay on par with him. However, I much enjoyed Harbour's half-jaguar, half-human sidekick, Ben Daimio, played by Daniel Dae Kim.

And, as I said earlier, there are things in this movie that come off as cheap, gimmicky or annoying, and I would have likely cut or reworked them in post-production for a better film. Notably the disfigured swine and the conjuring of spirits should have been reimagined or removed from this movie. Both had poorly done VFX, and the screen writers attempted to use them to tug at our heartstrings. It ended up feeling corny and ill-timed, invoking a laugh rather than a sob from the audience.

Nevertheless, my point still stands that critics underrated this movie, and now because of that reaction, this movie will not have a fighting chance at the box office. People will opt out of seeing a movie that is a more than satisfactory experience in the theater. It will not be profitable, and it will not get the sequel that it teases that would make an interesting addition to the lore/saga.

Rating: 7/10

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