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Movie Review: “Hellboy”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/12/2019

Theatrical Release: 4/12/2019

Synopsis

Hellboy (David Harbour) is a valuable agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He works under Professor Broom (Ian McShane), the man who raised him since the day he rose from hell. Professor Broom has always been a father to him, but Hellboy has never exactly been able to fit in. With red skin, a tail, horns that have to be shaved constantly, and a very powerful right hand, Hellboy has always felt like an outcast, but he tries to do good. Even still, he wonders if there is a monster deep within him that will inevitably be unleashed upon Earth.

Unfortunately, Earth is facing a new threat, one that aims to bring all of hell’s monsters to the surface with the intent of going to war with humanity. Nimue (Milla Jovovich) is an extremely powerful witch, who has been trapped for centuries. Now she has returned, and she has aligned herself with a monster who has a special hatred for Hellboy. Hellboy also learns a troubling prophecy, one that shows him leading the army of the monsters as they destroy humanity. He must find a way to stop Nimue, but he must do so without becoming the very monster that he always feared he could be.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Action (+5pts)

Exposition (-8pts)

Hellboy (+6pts)

Cluttered (-6pts)

The Supporting Cast (+5pts)

Nimue (-6pts)

movie-review-hellboy

Pro: The Action (+5pts)

There was not a ton of action in this movie, but when it was happening, it was pretty entertaining. We got Hellboy fighting a variety of different things, and while I do not want to say exactly what he fought, the action was definitely cool while it was happening. If you were hoping to see Hellboy in some cool action sequences, this movie definitely had scenes that will quench that thirst. Unfortunately, the action was a little too few and far between, but I enjoyed it while it was happening.

The filmmakers managed to get a few different versions of Hellboy in this movie. They had Hellboy in brawling action sequences, they had him with his iconic gun, and there were a few brief moments with him wielding a flaming sword. I would have liked to have seen a lot more of each of these versions of Hellboy. However, the filmmakers decided to focus on other things.

movie-review-hellboy

Con: Exposition (-8pts)

This movie had way too much exposition. The filmmakers clearly tried to fit too much into this movie. In order to get all of it into the movie, the filmmakers needed to give viewers a lot of information. Their method of doing this was to add a bunch of dialogue heavy scenes in which a character was dumping a ton of information onto Hellboy—although it was really the filmmakers dumping a ton of information onto the viewer.

It was either dialogue about Hellboy’s past, or dialogue explaining other characters that the filmmakers wanted to setup. Either way, there was way too much of it in here. It made the movie feel slow, and to be honest, pretty boring at times. Doing this once or twice, briefly, can be forgiven. However, doing it so frequently, and for so long, definitely hurt the pacing of the movie.

movie-review-hellboy

Pro: Hellboy (+6pts)

I enjoyed David Harbour as Hellboy, and I enjoyed Hellboy’s story—although I had a few issues with it, which I will get into later. I liked Hellboy’s relationship with Professor Broom, I liked Hellboy’s relationship with Alice (Sasha Lane), and I liked Hellboy’s struggle with fate. Who was Hellboy? Was he destined to be a hero or a monster?

The character struggled with his destiny. He wanted to be a hero, but he worried that there was a monster within him that would inevitably be unleashed. His relationships with Alice and Professor Broom were there to make Hellboy feel human, and I thought both characters did a good job of conveying different aspects of Hellboy’s humanity to the audience. He felt responsible for protecting Alice, and he had a uniquely complicated childhood with Professor Broom—his father figure. I liked the bits of Hellboy’s character development that we got, but I thought the filmmakers should have given more focus to this part of the story.

movie-review-hellboy

Con: Cluttered (-6pts)

There were a lot of story elements that had potential in this movie. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had too much story to tell with too little time. There were the British branch of agents, Nimue, the giants, the crazy old witch lady, and more. The movie was way too cluttered with antagonists, so that there was no time to properly develop any of them, and there was not enough time to properly develop Hellboy. On top of that, it was so cluttered that some of the storylines made absolutely no sense, but the filmmakers did not have enough screentime to get them to make sense. Each of these storylines could have been interesting, but the filmmakers bit off way more than they could chew by trying to cram all of these storylines into one movie.

movie-review-hellboy

Pro: The Supporting Cast (+5pts)

When I say that I liked the supporting cast, I am specifically referring to those who played Professor Broom (Ian McShane), Alice (Sasha Lane), and Major Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim). Neither Sasha Lane nor Daniel Dae Kim will blow you away, but they were decent. I liked their characters and I liked their chemistry as a group. Ian McShane, however, is one of those actors that consistently makes his characters so much more interesting than they should be. He makes his characters feel mysterious, and he has a presence that leaves a lasting impression on the movies he is in even when he is not on screen very much. The guy improves his movies by giving his roles that unique, Ian McShane flavor. Together, the three made a strong supporting cast. They were not enough to save the movie from its problems, but they certainly made the movie better.

movie-review-hellboy

Con: Nimue (-6pts)

I had two problems with this character. The first was that she was underdeveloped due to how cluttered the movie was. I have already addressed that, so I will not get into that again here. The other issue was the impact that this character had on Hellboy.

Nimue seemed to be able to manipulate Hellboy, and I really did not understand how or why. She did not seem to do anything special that would justify this, yet Hellboy was manipulated anyway. It made Hellboy come across as mentally weak, which was a shame, because if Nimue was developed a little better, the character could have been so much more interesting. Hellboy could have been faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not monsters deserved to be in hell while humans got to be on earth. Are monsters instinctively bad or are they just bad out of circumstance, due to their desperation to live in the light? These were elements of the story that were present if you are willing to dig deep, but giving Nimue a little more development could have brought this moral dilemma front and center. This in turn would have made the entire story a lot more interesting than it was.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-hellboy

Grade: C- (71pts)

I was looking forward to this movie, hoping that it would be a solid reboot. It definitely had potential, but the filmmakers tried to do way too much with far too little time. The story was cluttered with way too many antagonists, and by squeezing them all in his movie, there was not nearly enough time to develop any of them. The most disappointing of the antagonists was Nimue, but that was because I thought she had the most potential, due to the moral dilemma she could have made Hellboy face. The filmmakers were also forced to cram in a ton of exposition in order to setup each of the various threats that Hellboy would have to face, which slowed the movie way down.

What worked for this movie was the main character, the supporting protagonists, and the action—or at least the little action that we got. David Harbour did a fine job as Hellboy, and I liked the character’s relationships with the side characters. Alice and Major Daimio made for a fun group, but Ian McShane played the side character that gave the movie the most depth. At the end of the day, this was a promising reboot, with a strong cast behind it. Unfortunately, the filmmakers tried to cram too much into this story, which made the movie feel slow, incoherent, and at times, boring.

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