Big Red is back with a vengeance, and there's no doubt he made a statement in his feature-film return. Right out of the gates, Neil Marshall's Hellboy loses it's footing pretty early on, but by the time the movie's two-hour runtime is over it starts showing great promise, even though it's too little too late. The last sequence of the movie is arguably the best of the entire flick and just when you're hooked, the credits begin to roll.
The thing is, that doesn't stop the movie from being as fun as it can be. The film certainly isn't short of action, with a new sequence every few minutes that manages to be enjoyable and downright fun. There's an incredible amount of blood and violence, nearly to the point of absurdity. Luckily enough, the film's CGI isn't the most refined in the age of comic-book blockbusters, which makes the gore much easier to consume.
There's no doubt about it, this Hellboy reboot is a moving Mike Mignola comic through and through. The writer's influence on this film is unmistakable. In fact, there are several shots throughout the film that are ripped straight from some of the panels Duncan Fegredo drew in stories like Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt.
Truth be told, that serves as both its blessing and curse. For longtime readers of Hellboy comics, little to no explanation is needed for characters like Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), Gruagach (Douglas Tait), and Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane). Unfortunately for casual moviegoers, those backstories aren't something this film explores. There are, however, nods from all over the Hellboy mythos that are sure to make comic fans jump with joy, but will provide nothing to the masses.
The movie manages to cramp a handful of different Hellboy comic arcs into the span of two hours, making it seem as if there's a substantial amount of footage that was left on the cutting-room floor. It's here that the movie truly falters, unable to dedicate enough time to any one arc. It's as if the team wanted to please fans so much, they were willing to sacrifice a coherent, meaty story for a lighter tale that is bound to please the fans who've read Hellboy comics from the beginning. That much is apparent, even with an ending and two post-credits scenes that each seem to set up their own sequel or spinoff property.
David Harbour's Hellboy is certainly a fresh take on the character. There was something that feels off about the character all throughout the film and it seemingly comes down to editing and sound mixing that makes it painstakingly obvious they were recorded in post-production during an ADR session.
David Harbour's Big Red is pretty well spot on. He's a drunk and ornery, two important characteristics lifted straight from other versions of the character. Quite frankly, the role is reminiscent of Jeff Bridges' The Dude in The Big Lebowski despite there not being an iconic line such as the fabled "I've been drinking with skeletons!"
The majority of the supporting cast do a great job with the roles they're given, particularly Kim and Lane. Though they never get a super deep arc to explore a friendship that's barely touched on in the film, their dynamic together steals the show every time they're on screen together, however little that may be. There's even a line where Lane's Alice Monaghan seemingly breaks the fourth wall, offering audiences an opportunity for a hearty chuckle.
For all of its shortcomings -- like a weak script and even weaker editing -- Hellboy manages to provide a fun experience chock-full of bizarre fights and action that you won't get anywhere else. In a world saturated with comic-book content, there's no denying it stands out, for better or worse.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Hellboy is now playing in theaters.