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  • Writer's pictureCurtis Mcilvaine

Hellboy (2019)

Dumb. This movie is actually closer plot wise to the comics than the Del Toro movies. But it also then proves that accuracy does not a good movie make. Those movies had tone issues for sure, but where I thought they weren’t terrible, 3/5 seems fair for them, this film is a 2/5, maybe lower. I said I thought the Del Toro films were taking notes from Men in Black and Spiderman in order to make it more marketable, but this distancing them from the source material. Well the same thing is happening here, except swap Spiderman for Deadpool. This film wasn’t doomed from the onset though. Watching it, I knew the reputation it had, but I looked for positives. Like I said the plot is more in line with the comics, it is shifted around a lot but it’s all pulling from the material. The physical effects are mostly good, though the cgi can be questionable. And I thought David Harbour did pretty well as Hellboy, he wasn’t a bad fit, and I actually prefer the makeup here too. But the rest? Like I said, it wasn’t doomed. It seems to me like someone proposed a proper Hellboy movie with horror themes and intense action earning an R rating. But the production team wanted something more marketable, lean in to the humor, quicken the pace, pop culture references, etc etc. With the success of Deadpool I have to imagine it was a big influence. R rated comic book movie filled with violence and humor, do that with Hellboy, makes sense right? Except again, it pivots away from the actual material. This film is so fast paced it often just feels like it lacks confidence in its drama, it doesn’t trust itself to land hard hitting moments so it just moves on. Playing some ill-fitting rock song and making a half hearted joke. Then repeating the F word over and over to appease its target audience of thirteen year olds that think it’s the funniest thing on the planet, and throw some gore at them too for good measure. The comics hellboy rarely had curses from what I remember, and the gore was far less in your face as this movie. It’s not disturbing or grotesque, it comes off crass, like it’s going for a reaction. Dumb. But, there are positive moments that did feel right to me, even with the ridiculous and tenuous rest of the film around it. The beginning where Hellboy seeks out a missing agent, only to kill him in self defense? For the most part that seemed right. Then seeing his name being added to the list of fallen agents, and taking a moment to appreciate that, that’s something he would’ve done in the comic. Seeing hellboy with his crown, sword, and horns was pretty awesome. The makeup and design is pretty good here, if a bit over exaggerated and angry looking. I never liked the specifics of the story this film was adapting, (spoilers). Hellboy is revealed to be the last in the line of King Arthur, and rightful heir to Excalibur, a weapon that could defeat the villainous Nimue. But he turns it down, seeing it as another version of the same sort of prophecies he’s been trying to avoid. I felt this was contrived in the comics, not having been built up to, and not really coming back again. Thus an adaptation could in theory do it better by retooling the narrative. But the film falls flat on this, leaving it until the last third to spring that whole concept on the audience. It seems like there probably was someone involved here that genuinely wanted to make a good hellboy adaptation, but through several layers of pedantry and “mass appeal”, you wind up with an exceedingly weak product that relies on dumb humor, irreverent dialogue, and gore to appease its audience. It’s R rated but clearly aimed at a prepubescent audience that might actually find it endearing.

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