I can’t even open Facebook anymore without being told whether a movie is great or terrible. This was the case when “The Predator”—a film I was highly looking forward to—was released back in fall 2018, and I was essentially told not to waste my time. Therefore, I didn’t see it. This was the case again when the review embargo for the reboot of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” was lifted. Again, I was told not to waste my time and write the film off as a complete failure.
There’s a want for movie reviews and audience impressions, I can’t deny that. I also can’t tell people they don’t have the right to share their opinions; that’s the Holy Grail of social sins right there. The problem with our society now being an app away from sending a message to hundreds, thousands and millions is people give up their autonomy without even realizing it. Their opinion of something is simply a regurgitation of another’s, almost verbatim, and they don’t even humor the possibility they might not really share that opinion. We deify those we look up to and surrender what makes us unique in the process.
In other words, in our quest to be informed, don’t let that rob us from thinking for ourselves.
“Hellboy” is nowhere near as bad as you’re probably hearing. Yes, it’s rife with inexplicable indulgences in classic and contemporary rock ‘n’ roll that feel like they came from James Gunn’s rejection list for “Guardians of the Galaxy”—a movie which had an actual narrative reason for its choice of music—and the CGI can border on being God-awful. But it is also a fun, kick-back-your-feet Saturday night kind of film that embraces being over-the-top.
I haven’t seen director Guillermo del Toro’s previous iterations of “Hellboy,” nor have I read the comics upon which the series is based. Because of that, I like to think I’m free of any allegiance to one creative mind over another. I’m a fan Del Toro’s work, and I’ll probably like his original series too once I see it, but I’m also a huge supporter of the underdog. In this case, the underdog is director Neil Marshall—who is perhaps best known for directing a number of episodes of Game of Thrones.
Marshall has been given the impossible task of competing with the likes of del Toro, and he has no chance in hell… boy, of winning. Del Toro, even 10 years ago, has a command of his projects. He is the captain and everyone else is the crew. It doesn’t help that he has numerous awards as well.
Marshall, on the other hand, only has a handful of films to his name and even less awards to show for them. This doesn’t mean he’s a bad director, but it does mean he’s still growing and learning. Who knows, one day maybe he’ll be in the same caliber as del Toro. He certainly has an eye for creature-design—as seen in this film—that rivals the latter…
Also working against Marshall is series creator Mike Mignola’s more active influence in the production than in previous iterations. With del Toro, Mignola was an advisor and occasional consultant, as opposed to being the producer and go-to for all things related to the character in this new film. Mignola said he would have minimal involvement in the production before it started, but judging by the film’s struggle between wanting to be a novice-accessible blockbuster while also retaining a faithfulness to its source material, I feel like that isn’t true.
Back to the film, though a power-struggle it may be between two individuals whose plans don’t always complement one another, Hellboy (David Harbour) as a character is just a fun time to watch. Harbour embodies this otherwise unrelatable character and makes him empathetic. He’s torn between being a good “man” while also accepting his nature as the spawn of the underworld. Living with that kind of dichotomy always hanging over your head, you too would be pretty ticked off about it.
The narrative is nothing inventive or really worth dissecting, and I don’t think that was the filmmakers’ intention. Their job is to reintroduce this new iteration of Hellboy to audiences who were otherwise beginning to forget the character even existed. He’s unlike any other comic-book character out there, thus making him, implicitly, all the more intriguing. While the current box office projection and critical reception is probably going to hurt its chances of getting a sequel, I’ll be the first in line should one be made, simply because of Harbour alone.
The aforementioned narrative is also compensated by performances from supporting stars Milla Jovovich and Sasha Lane, in particular, and a rich mythology that’s surface has only been scratched.
There’s so much potential in this rebooted series. We shouldn’t wipe the slate clean because the film didn’t live up to impossible expectations influenced by a more experienced director. You ever seen the first season of “Friends”? If that was the only season to ever air, I would’ve never questioned why it didn’t live to see more.
Read my review, I appreciate the support. Read other reviews, as well, because those authors too feel they have something significant to say about the movies we watch. Some even make a living doing this kind of thing—support them even more so because they depend on you. However, don’t lose what makes you you. Formulate your own opinions. Use others to inform it. Don’t let people tell you your opinion isn’t worth sharing.
“Hellboy” may not live up to your expectations, but does that necessarily mean it’s no good because of that? Something to think about… 3.5/5