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With: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church, Penelope Mitchell, Sophie Okonedo, Brian Gleeson, Alistair Petrie, Laila Morse, Stephen Graham, Douglas Tait
Written by: Andrew Cosby, based on the comic created by Mike Mignola
Directed by: Neil Marshall
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language
Running Time: 120
Date: 04/12/2019

Hellboy (2019)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

What the Hell?

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This reboot, the third movie based on Mike Mignola's terrific comics, is missing the magic of Guillermo Del Toro's first two movies, and is extremely gory, but still has enough style and personality to make it worth a look.

In Hellboy (2019), a flashback explains how King Arthur defeated the evil Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) and scattered her body parts to keep her from re-forming. In the present, Hellboy (David Harbour) goes to Mexico to find a missing colleague, only to discover that he's turned into a vampire. Back at B.P.R.D. headquarters, he learns that a monster called Gruagach (Stephen Graham) has been stealing the queen's body parts to re-assemble her, which will bring about the end of human life.

At the same time, there are premonitions saying that Hellboy himself will somehow contribute to this, which causes several of his would-be colleagues — including a secret organization that holds one of the queen's limbs — to try and kill him. When the queen becomes whole, Hellboy teams with Alice (Sasha Lane) and B.P.R.D. man Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) for a final showdown with the world itself at stake.

The new Hellboy is directed by Neil Marshall, who made the excellent horror movie The Descent, and this one feels for all the world like a horror movie, too, with extremely liberal gore (most of it clearly computer-generated), several terrifying monsters, and plenty of senseless death. Of course, the comics are also horror-based, but while their tone is somewhat wry and deadpan, or even nightmarish, Marshall's movie feels a little too busy.

Likewise, star Harbour (Stranger Things) has some big shoes to fill, taking over the iconic role from Ron Perlman in Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), and he doesn't quite make it. The performance is a bit too big, with plenty of anguish and shock, whereas the beloved character is usually portrayed, to wonderful deadpan comic effect, as mostly perturbed and grumpy. (Not to mention that he doesn't even get to smoke in this one.)

Moreover, while Jovovich makes a great Blood Queen, the character doesn't have much to do other than make threatening speeches. But McShane and Lane work well, and the characters themselves are already pretty likable. And Marshall manages a few fight scenes that are beautifully choreographed and thrilling. All in all, it's nice to have Hellboy back, even in diminished returns.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release also comes with a bonus DVD and digital copy. The transfer is excellent, although the movie itself has a bit of a murky look. Bonuses include a three-part, feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary, with Mignola himself appearing. There are deleted scenes (about 8 minutes), and "previsualizations" (also about 8 minutes), with very rough, computer-animated blocking for key scenes. I feel like this movie isn't nearly as bad as its reception would indicate; it's merely a matter of taking it on its own, rather than comparing it to the superior Del Toro/Perlman films.

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