The fantastic universe hell boy seemed to fit perfectly with the cinematographic style, the overflowing imagination and the ‘handmade’ technique of William of the Bullwhen the character created by Mike Mignola It first came to the screen in 2004. That initial adaptation was quite far from becoming a success, but it was enough to develop “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, 2008), a sequel that had to compete with other comic tanks like “Iron Man – The Iron Man” (Iron Man, 2008) and “Batman: The Dark Knight” (The Dark Knight, 2008). Even so, the fandom asked for a worthy ending to the trilogy, a delivery that never came (nor would it come), due to the extensive commitments of the Oscar-winning director and the author’s doubts about the future of his creature.
After several interdicts and many twists and turns, the studio decided to release del Toro from his responsibilities and make a clean slate regarding the red devil. Without Ron Perlman behind the horns, Lionsgate cut to the chase and looked for a “younger” performer to move forward with the franchise. Fresh from the terrifying stories of “Stranger Things”, David Harbor took over and surrendered to the whims of the director Neil Marshall and those of Mignola, now much more involved in the process.
Marshall, responsible for things like “Dog Soldiers” (2002), “The descent” (The Descent, 2005) and television episodes such as “Blackwater”, seems the ideal candidate to take charge of a story (and a character) that mixes super superhero action with fantastic adventure and a little bit of terror not suitable for all audiences. Yes, “Hellboy” (2019) comes with the highest rating (the ‘R’, for Restricted, that is, only suitable for people over 17 years of age) for its high levels of violence and spilled blood. A point that should play in his favor, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The story proposed by good old Neil and the screenwriter Andrew Cosby it is a concoction of places, situations and creatures that does not understand the concept of “less is more”; although the main problem of the film is not its plot, but its protagonists, who never reach deep into our interest and our empathy in the way that the versions of the Mexican filmmaker did. Comparisons are odious and we shouldn’t make them, but there is nothing palpable or human that can be gleaned from the character of Harbour, the soul of a story that, precisely, lacks it. This is the main sin of this new comic incursion: nothing encourages us to relate to this good-hearted demon who must decide between the world of humans and that of the infernal creatures who want to conquer Earth.
It all starts in the 6th century when the King Arthur (mark stanley) is facing Nimue (Jovovich mile), a very powerful sorceress known as “The Queen of Blood” (Blood Queen), who seeks to avenge her own by unleashing the plague that will end the human race. The monarch and his knights – with the faithful help of Excalibur– they manage to stop the witch, but not kill her, dismembering her body and spreading it across Britain to keep her powers at bay.
In the present, hell boy travels to Mexico (HA!) in search of one of his companions from the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) or Agency for Paranormal Research and Defense (AIDP), missing for several weeks. What he finds will surprise him in many ways and will plant a doubt in his head related to his past, his true demonic nature and the coming apocalypse. yes, you guessed it, Red He has no idea who he is or where his foster dad got him from. Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane). From there various conflicts will arise, personal and family, which push the protagonist to rethink his place in the world. Of course, he will have a little push from Nimue who, with the help of his followers, will try to put him on his side so that he fulfills his destiny.
While the sorceress is putting her parts back together and recovering her power to unleash terror and chaos on the face of the Earth, Hellboy travels halfway around the world facing creatures and humans who want him dead; fighting with dad, and teaming up with Alice Monaghan (sasha lane), a girl with the ability to contact the deceased, and Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae-Kim), military and member of the AIDP who hides his own secrets. A relatively simple story, but complicated to unthinkable extremes that, in more capable hands, would have been a much more entertaining film with more heart.
To the filmmakers, Hellboy, Bruttenholm and company must be tough, dark characters. Here, violence and blood prevail over everything, reducing the story to a set of confrontations that end up boring, too many accumulated situations and computer-created effects that do not meet the minimum quality standards. Nothing works at all, in part, because we have already seen him represented in another way, even better and more human, the latter being the true key to Mignola’s ambiguous character.
From its conception, “Hellboy” seems like a forced film, like each of its scenes and protagonists, who insist on appearing more “adult” and terrifying than del Toro’s version. Precisely to avoid comparisons, Marshall and Cosby go to the other extreme and end up with empty characters who cannot carry out an engaging story, much less entertaining. What remains is a bunch of strange creatures in CGI handing out pineapples and hacks, some connections with the arthuric legendsa rushed and generic resolution, and a couple of hair-raising post-credits scenes that, like most of these previews, excite only the connoisseur of comics.
Seeing the result, we could say that another version of the red demon was not needed, but that is not something that stops Hollywood. Things are given for “Hellboy” to start a new saga of films, but viewers could come to think otherwise if this ultra-violent adventure (and more expensive than those of the Mexican) does not meet their expectations. Ours, for now, went to hell itself.
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ANALYSIS | hell boy
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