Before the reboot hits theaters, we’re taking a look at Big Red’s previous films. Today we start things off with a look at 2004’s Hellboy.
When they first announced casting David Harbour as Hellboy in the new film, I was left in a bittersweet state of wanting to know why we needed this to begin with, but I was willing to a least see a trailer – I think this meme says it best:
I was not impressed by the trailer and I desperately wished that Guillermo Del Toro was still behind the wheel of the franchise. The cast is impressive though, and I’ll probably still go see it because I hate myself. Why was I putting up so much of a fight though? Is that franchise as good as I remember it?
The opening of this movie is odd to say the least. Hellboy comes out of a Lovecraftian dimension opened by a thought to be dead Russian mystic. The mystic is working with the Nazis and all this is happening of the coast of a British Isle. Have questions? Forget it it! This film just chuckles over them with, “Oh, is that how that happened? Ho ho?”
If you are able to suspend your disbelief, the characters in this movie are its saving grace. The protagonist humans are interesting and you want to know more about them. Where the movie really shines is through Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and, of course, Hellboy. Both characters display distinct and unique wonders that the film needed. Not that this isn’t unexpected. Jones and Ron Perlman are top tier character actors. Each of them bring a gravitas and sincerity to the roles that I don’t feel other actors can bring. Even ones I like, such as David Harbour.
The antagonists do not share this; minus Kroenen, the nazi mutilated killing machine, who is super menacing and cool. Rasputin is just kind of there until the film decides it needs a climax. He doesn’t even really have a climactic battle. He just exists as a middle-man for Hellboy to learn something for himself. Rasputin’s partner just serves as the person who revives him…making her, somehow, less important. The monster, Sammael the immortal, seemed thrown in to save on production budget, and having to explain anything else.
And yet, in spite of all of these things, I really enjoy this movie. As a character piece, this film is superb. The mind of Guillermo del Toro is fascinating and I wish he spent more time world-building in this one.
All in all, this film is not as great as I remember it, but is still better than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Written by Eric Brockett
(Eric is a millennial and thus thinks his opinion on the internet matters. Sometimes he has opinions on films too. He thinks people care. He knows they don’t.)