David Harbour stars as 'Hellboy' in HELLBOY. Photo Credit: Mark Rogers.
David Harbour stars as 'Hellboy' in HELLBOY. Photo Credit: Mark Rogers.

Film: Hellboy

Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane

Director: Neil Marshall

Rating: * * *

Neill Marshall’s gory remake of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy and Mike Mignola’s comic books (as they were called when I was growing up) does what its illustrious literary forebears have done – reinvented received representations of the devil. John Milton’s Lucifer is conflicted and noble. Marie Corelli’s Satan longs to for salvation. More accurately, C S Lewis’s fallen angels always looked for someone to devour. That critics panned Corelli’s bestselling Sorrows of Satan is another story.

Marshall’s version has been crafted to appeal to a youthful male audience which relishes gory movies (not to speak of violent graphic novels) but hello! Isn’t there something debased about an audience which thrills to evil? Thank goodness for small mercies, the titular anti-hero doesn’t come in disguise like demons over the centuries. After all, deceit and deception is their calling card. What you see is what you get. Red skin, horns, a tail, yellow eyes. In fact, this reboot’s super-hero looks mean and ugly unlike his predecessor Ron Perlman.

Hellboy 2019 is ultra-violent albeit laced with a fun streak that made the comic book series a massive hit. You should know the titular demon (David Harbour, impressive) was rescued by Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), who raised him as his son. As always, nurture wins over nature and Hellboy became good. Now, a wicked witch named Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), who was killed by King Arthur in the sixth century, is reassembled from the damned by minions, and attempts to seduce Hellboy into joining her to establish a new realm of terror. But Hellboy sees the apocalypse for what it is. The reboot introduces an interesting new element to his lineage. The narrative is full of interesting twists, exciting action sequences and the most hideous of monsters. But do not expect to be entertained by the grotesque.

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