As we get closer to Eid, there are scores of Lollywood films that are set to be released across the country. While we’ll look into those in the weeks to follow Ramzan, in the meantime multiplexes are dominated by superhero flicks amidst the Bollywood ban.
These are, of course, led by Avengers: Endgame, which we discussed last week. Another superhero film that has been screened across the country in recent times is Hellboy.
Ron Perlman and Hellboy have been hand-in-glove for a while now. David Harbour, hence, knew from the onset that he is entering massive shoes, which would require immense effort to be sufficiently filled.
Before we dig into the movie itself, it’s important to underline that there is significant disparity between this rendition and the original movies. It must be said that the latest offering has its own (very limited) strengths and (supremely ominous) weaknesses, and any juxtaposition with the originals would neither be fair to the recent release nor would it bode well for its billing!
The legendary half-demon Hellboy (David Harbour) is called to the English countryside to deal with the apocalypse that is taking place at the hands of a giant troika. Hellboy finds out that Vivian Nimue, The Blood Queen, (Milla Jovovich) is imbued with vengeance for the past, ready to unleash her evil powers. Amidst all this, our half demon superhero finds himself stuck between the world of humans and supernatural beings, all set to stop Nimue and her destructive plans.
Given the setting and the core of the storyline, one can’t help but expect a product that would at least match what the franchise has traditionally had to offer. It, however, remains a far cry.
Buffs of the franchise, and especially the comic books, would especially be astounded by the manner in which The Blood Queen tries to lure Hellboy towards the dark side, keeping his divided nature in mind. Given that this centripetal conflict would’ve been the film’s core, the way it was handled is absolutely anticlimactic. In the end, the film forces Hellboy to defy his own nature, and the struggle itself struggles to come to the fore, completely undermining the traditional characterization from the comic books.
David Harbour is in top form, and despite the flawed writing stays true to the character. That, however, isn’t the case for others.
Milla Jovovich as The Blood Queen, for example, was plain boring and blatantly generic. Indeed, a lot of that had to do with the writing limitations: an evil, resurrected sorceress, hell bent on committing atrocities, with absolutely no depth to the origin of the character whatsoever, isn’t particularly exciting.
Any movie that is rooting on a single performer – even if it’s the titular character – pins everything on the success of a solitary character. And if that isn’t properly unraveled, exhibits contradictions and departs from its original creation, the film has little to play with. For Hellboy aficionados the limited screen-time for Karl Rupert Kroenen would also be off-putting.
The humour in the film isn’t what one would expect. The special effects aren’t that special, or effective, either. That’s precisely why, as warned above, any comparisons with the film’s predecessors would only bury it further down.
Hellboy won’t exactly be your first choice even with the limited options at multiplexes these days. Many would argue that even a fourth viewing of Avengers: Endgame might still edge out watching a version of Hellboy that doesn’t stay true to its origins.
That’s precisely why even the diehard fans of the franchise would struggle to warm up to Hellboy. Should you then watch Hellboy, if you haven’t particularly cared for the character in the past? Hell, no.