The world of comic books has had its pantheon of recognisable household names, one of them is Mike Mignola. The creations of Mike Mignola have had tremendous success as animated movies, graphic novels and even as feature-length films, yet it had been some time since (arguably his most famous creation had done that). 15 years after the red demon initially graced the big screen, with a new cast and a new crew, he’s doing it all again in 2019’s Hellboy.
After a failed extraction trip down to Mexico Hellboy, a devil-human hybrid, fighting for good at the B.R.P.D., is sent to England to help the mysterious Osiris Club deal with some giants. This series of events sends him on the trail of Vivienne Nimue, a witch, who was vivisected during the time of King Arthur. She makes a return promising a better life for Demons, free from the persecution of the B.P.R.D. Hellboy is naturally conflicted about where his loyalties should lay.
The replacement of Ron Perlman was always going to be contentious, not wanting to return without Del Toro is fair, but with both gone, it gives the series fresh licence to try something new. David Harbour gives it his all, and it becomes apparent why he was chosen to take over the mantle. He still quips like the best of them and slays demons proficiently too, you will soon forget that you are watching anyone different. Alice Monaghan and Ben Daimio make good partners, with more quips and cool powers than you can shake a stick at, and Milla Jovovich is a fine fit as the recently resurrected witch Nimue. There are even hints of further stories with the inclusion of Russian folktale, Baba Yaga is here depicted as a repulsive and hilarious, who is destined for greater things, as the new cinematic universe progresses. There is no doubt about how the characters of Hellboy et al. feel once again at home on the cinema screen.
Some of the fight scenes are impressively choreographed, with minimal cuts, and a lot of free-flowing action. Other sequences are vivid with a use of colour and scenery (that make them feel that they are straight out of a comic book). As a Brit, I like the film’s primary setting of England, I like the cameo of Big Mo, I even get a chuckle hearing the American actors tackle British swears. This is wonderfully counterbalanced with Mignola and co.’s mixture of folklore, history, and the occult that is intertwined in their work. There is an impressively apocalyptic sequence later that fully shows this off, in an inventively gory extravaganza.
Hellboy manages to return with a kinetic pace, ample humour, and overall sense of fun. It captures that classic grunge-tinged spirit of the likes of Spawn, The Darkness and many others, yet still feels modern enough to appeal to the newer tastes. Hellboy leaps headfirst into a world full of possibilities, with a new cast, fresh crew, and a whole lot of stories they could tell. As the scientists at Project Ragna Rok and the folks at the B.P.R.D. knew, Hellboy is full of potential.
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