“We’re the line in the sand. We fight against the forces of darkness.”
Hellboy (released as Hellboy: Call of Darkness in some markets) is a 2019 American superhero film based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name. Directed by Neil Marshall. It is a reboot of the Hellboy film series, and the third live-action film in the franchise.
In the Dark Ages on 517 A.D., the evil Blood Queen Vivienne Nimue unleashes a plague on England until King Arthur thwarts her with Ganeida’s aid, a member of her coven. Arthur uses Excalibur to dismember Nimue, and hides her remains across England.
In the present day at Tijuana, Mexico, paranormal investigator Hellboy accidentally kills missing agent Esteban Ruiz during a wrestling match, whose mission got him turned into a vampire. After hearing Ruiz’s dying words the end is coming, Hellboy is brought back to the B.P.R.D. in Colorado, assigned by B.P.R.D. leader Trevor Bruttenholm, his adoptive human father, to assist the Osiris Club in hunting three giants. The club’s seer Lady Hatton reveals Bruttenholm was meant to kill Hellboy when he came into the world as a result of Nazis’ Project Ragna Rok, but instead raised him. Meanwhile, a warthog-like fairy known as Gruagach is advised by the witch Baba Yaga to retrieve Nimue’s limbs, so she may grant his wish for revenge against Hellboy.
During the hunt, Hellboy is betrayed and nearly killed by the hunters before ambushed by the giants, allowing Hellboy to kill them before being rescued by a young woman, where he awakens in her flat and recognizes her as Alice Monaghan, a medium he once rescued from fairies as a baby. Sending a SO19 team to retrieve Hellboy, Bruttenholm relays that Nimue’s remains have been taken and the last piece is at the Osiris Club.
They are introduced to M11 agent Ben Daimio, as Hellboy and Alice join the team and heads to the club. Finding the club slain, Alice channels Hatton’s spirit, who reveals Nimue seeks Hellboy to cause the apocalypse, when Nimue’s arm is stolen by Gruagach and Nimue distracts Hellboy by appealing to his frustrations, allowing Gruagach to escape. Hellboy reveals Gruagach is a changeling who took baby Alice’s place before Hellboy branded him with iron and forced him to return Alice, that Gruagach hates Hellboy for taking his chance to be human.
Daimio takes them to M11 headquarters before secretly acquiring a special bullet to kill Hellboy. After an argument with Bruttenholm about his adoption, Hellboy is magically transported to Baba Yaga’s house. Having shot out Baba Yaga’s eye, Hellboy is talked into giving up one of his eyes for Nimue’s location. Hellboy delays on honoring the deal and she curses him to lose a loved one. On the way to Nimue’s location at Pendleton, Daimio reveals to Alice that he was the sole survivor of a demonic jaguar attack.
The trio arrives at Nimue’s full resurrection, as she kills her coven with the exception of Ganeida, while Hellboy stops her, but is overwhelmed by her power. Nimue poisons Alice and flees, as Ganeida directs Hellboy to the resting place of Merlin to save Alice. After Merlin cures Alice and puts her and Daimio to sleep, he reveals Hellboy is Anung un Rama, heir of Arthur through his mother, who was spirited to Hell by his father. When offered Excalibur, Hellboy refuses after seeing a future vision of himself causing the apocalypse, while Merlin, having exhausted his magic, disintegrates.
Meanwhile, Nimue attacks M11 and abducts Bruttenholm, as the trio follow Nimue to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Can the Queen be stopped or is all hope lost?
Having been a huge fan of the original Hellboy films, I had very low expectations going into this but actually, Hellboy (2019) wasn’t as bad as I expected.
Now of course David Harbour is no Ron Perlman but he does just fine. It didn’t bother me to see him play the role as much as I thought it would. His makeup is improved but so it should be as it’s been 11 years since The Golden Army! Sadly, the thick prosthetic hampers Harbour’s performance, making it difficult for him to emote and it makes it so anyone could be under it all. Additionally, his Hellboy just isn’t very likeable. Plus he’s not nice to look at but I suppose that’s probably more true to character.
Unfortunately, the movie is more than just our main man and it’s a mess. There’s a constant barrage of convoluted side quests that buries the main plot, which means there’s never a moment to breathe and get to know anything about the characters personally. I did thoroughly enjoy the Baba Yaga side story though and thought the practical effects looked awesome.
Speaking of effects, Hellboy does have quite a lot of dodgy CGI (cough cough cheetah Daniel dae Kim). Alice’s power did regrettably display this but it was a unique and unexpected ability so I fully appreciate the concept.
Inside the action packed, gory, R rated journey there was a lot of comedy. Some of which was hilarious, but more often than not it missed the mark and fell flat.
Overall, I appreciated seeing Hellboy on the big screen again. I was entertained by this messy tale, even though I found it lacked the heart and soul of the original. Every actor did just fine, but throughout the whole film there’s one question circling your mind: Why didn’t they just use Ron Perlman and Guillermo Del Toro?