‘Hellboy’ is a Hell of a Good Time [Review]

Hellboy heads home on Blu-ray this week, delivering a wildly entertaining creature feature that’s certainly gorier than ever, but this latest film incarnation of Big Red is also surprisingly more emotional than expected.

David Harbour of Stranger Things takes over the titular role and brings more pathos to the character than previously explored on film, as he realizes his intended destiny is to be the ultimate demon of destruction and wrestles with his own inner demons and daddy issues.

As Hellboy’s adopted father, Ian McShane brings a cool adventurer vibe to Professor Broom. It is through a brief flashback that we learn Hellboy’s true origin and that Broom’s mission was to kill the young demon boy, created as the result of Nazi experimentation. Their father-son dynamic gives the movie its emotional weight, as Hellboy questions Broom’s love for him and considers that a creature more like him might actually make him feel whole in some way.

Milla Jovovich’s piercing gaze is stunning as ever as the resurrected Blood Queen, Nimue, who hasn’t quite been all together ever since King Arthur cut off all her limbs centuries ago, as depicted in the opening scene. But she’s back now, and she’s hellbent on allowing the creatures of darkness to rise and take the rightful place among the population of the planet. She sees Hellboy as one of her kind, and he starts to agree as he falls for her alluring seduction.

Thankfully, Nimue is not a one-dimensional villain and is in fact not outright evil. She doesn’t necessarily feel the humans need to all die, but if that’s what it takes for her kind to survive, then so be it. She legitimately wants Hellboy beside her as her king, an she makes a pretty strong offer.

Sasha Lane joins the fun as Alice, a badass psychic from Hellboy’s past, and Daniel Dae Kim is perfect as Daimio, a military soldier with a raging animal inside, while it’s Douglas Tait‘s character Gruagach’s obsession with revenge against Hellboy that drives the main plot of the film and brings about Nimue’s rebirth.

The creatures all look outstanding, with the Wild Hunt culminating in a fight against three giants in England, pieced together to feel as if it’s one long three-minute continuous shot, that is a total blast.

My favorite scene in the film has to be Hellboy’s confrontation with the grotesque Baba Yaga, amazingly portrayed by real life contortionist Troy James. It has the creepiest atmosphere in the film, and the makeup effects used on James combined with his abnormal ability to bend his body in inhuman ways creates a hauntingly unforgettable creature.

Th soundtrack rocks with a guitar-heavy score by Benjamin Walfisch, an well-placed tracks by bands like Royal Blood, Alice Cooper, and Motley Crue, and the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos surround sound is on point in helping transport the viewer into this world.

Three deleted scenes are included on the Blu-ray, and all of them are actually really good, including an extended, better version of the medieval prologue with King Arthur and Merlin, this time in full color. The second deleted scene has Hellboy taking a shower when Nimue appears and kicks her seduction into high gear as the water turns to bloo, covering them both. The final deleted scene is a brief run in with some cops that happens amid the apocalyptic chaos (another one of the best, goriest scenes) in London during the climax.

There is also a massive three-part documentary included, called Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn, which features tons of behind the scenes footage and interviews with most of the cast and crew. The first part of the documentary is about 25 minutes long and focuses on the cast, as Kim discusses the importance of having an Asian American hero, and McShane reveals that he was best friends with John Hurt, who previously played Broom in the earlier Hellboy movies.

Mike Mignola, creator of the Hellboy comics, is featured prominently, stating that this is the most faithful adaptation of his work.

While Mignola, screenwriter Andrew Cosby, and lots of various producers are featured throughout the behind the scenes segments, noticeably absent from all interviews is director Neil Marshall.

The second part of the documentary is approximately 17 minutes long, focusing on the creatures, while the third part is around 19 minutes long and discusses the production, all with much talk about how this film is darker and more true to the comics than the prior films.

There is also seven minutes of previsualizations, featuring early, rough animations of three key scenes, including the giant fight, the Gruagach cathedral fight, and the gory London monsters attack.

While there is regrettably no Hellboy trailer included, the “Also From Lionsgate” section has trailers for John Wick Chapter 3, Anna, and Long Shot.

The slipcase cover of the Blu-ray has a nicely embossed title treatment.

It may not have exactly been a smash at the box office, but Hellboy lives on as riotous, Hell of a good time.

Hellboy is available on Blu-ray, as well as 4K Ultra HD and On Demand from Lionsgate. (Order it here.)

[Read our interview with Douglas Tait on becoming Gruagach in Hellboy here.]

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‘Hellboy’ is a Hell of a Good Time [Review]