Hellboy is a figure born from a Nazi ritual, making him supposed to be about 75 but seems to be more like 55. He’s not necessarily immortal, but his pain tolerance is humungous and it’s very hard to break his bones and skin. He’s also as strong as the emotions people get upon seeing the colour red. Well, long long ago in the Dark Ages there was a queen named Nimue who unleashed an apocalypse of disease and rot, and the only way to kill her was with the one and only Excalibur. Well, this is horrifying, but Nimue, played by the always fierce Milla Jovovich, didn’t necessarily die when King Arthur “assassinated” her. Arthur’s warriors took her separate body parts across the globe so her body could never be stitched back. What do you think is the main plot here? Hellboy, played by David Harbour, goes to work for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense to find out how these beings have come back from hell and know of the resting places of her limbs and legs.
I used to love comic books, especially Bone and Amulet. Those comics did not have flashy panels and three-dimensional artwork. So I guess you can say I’m not a comic book fan. Sorry. I think the reason I never got into it was the Japanese comics you read backwards and I didn’t like the idea of that. Plus, their pages were like an unopened colouring book, no gray in between the black and white, making it kind of hard to look at and digest. And some superhero comics I felt were maybe just too over the top or soulless or looking like it was going to be #376 of the hero-vanquishes-the-villain story arc that’s too short to add anything new or have any real heart. But for those who love those kinds of comic books: Good for you! My experience is limited and I’m pretty much just talking about my initial views while I’ve barely given the time to trying them out. From this, it’s no surprise I never knew about Hellboy nor his comic book series before seeing this movie. I watched it because I wanted to watch something I hadn’t seen any trailers for and knew nothing about and see where that took me. And I have to say, I’m clueless as to the overall negative reception. Maybe it’s in comparison to the earlier films. I like being one of the rabbits out of the hole, however.
The actual Hellboy reminds me of Shrek in a more demented version of his at-first lonely and isolated life. He is passive-aggressive, loves to grunt, in desperate need of some friends to watch a fun, non-horror movie with, and pretty irresistible. Hellboy’s overly high pain tolerance allows so much shit to happen to him, stabbings, burns and drowning attempts aplenty. There’s a fight scene I likely won’t ever forget where so many knives are going through him that we know won’t kill him but we can tell they sting just like they would for us.
The story about the reconstruction of Nimue is like one of the soulless comic book story ideas I was talking about before, not attempting to do anything heartbreaking, unless you count the early death of a character I was unfamiliar with that is probably a big part of the Hellboy comic books. But embracing its R-rating and its graphic fashion of innocent bystanders getting their bones crushed and a female demon attempting to make out with our hero makes it enormously edgy. I’d call this an R-version of The Kid Who Would Be King, due to the Excalibur and the similar skeletal reconstructing narrative, and I loved that movie. Having to rewatch a similar plot in a new bloody gloss is definitely compliment in this case, not criticism. Because of its gore, it doesn’t feel like it’s copying off of that film. Also, there’s a message Hellboy throws in that’s like “Whoa!” It talks about how maybe these demons wouldn’t be demons because of all their prior harassment and that their desire for revenge is because of the neglect and disregarding and fighting against their resurrection that’s continuing. Considering Hellboy’s most likely discrimination throughout his life, I found that an entirely realistic trait, and he brought that message down with his big fat toes.
Some criticisms, though. It does noticeably take a while for the plot to start up after a somewhat gruesome beginning. This side character that’s old enough to be my great-grandmother yet is kept looking like Halle Berry’s younger sister through magic is not a very interesting sorcerer, and B.R.P.D. headquarters feel pretty bland as well, as do most of the human characters.
David Harbour and Milla Jovovich are clearly having the time of their lives playing characters ripped into pieces and sewn back together with razor wire, so much that I found the fun they were having as contagious as an airborne virus.