Superhero movies are big business these days, but while Marvel and DC, the Big Two, battle over who’s shared universe will reign supreme, independent comics are their characters are looking for a slice of that pie. The most successful indie comic title, with multiple TV series, movies and toy lines is the Ninja Turtles, but back in the early 2000’s Guillermo Del Toro adapted Mike Mignola’s fan favourite character onto the silver screen. And now their trying again.
Hellboy (David Harbour) is a demon fighting for humanity against the forces of darkness, as an agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence. He is called to England to join the Osiris club as they hunt a trio of giants. However, the Osiris club instead betrays Hellboy, intent to kill him before he can fulfil a prophecy of ending the world. Surviving the ambush and killing the giants, Hellboy is taken into the care Alice (Sasha Lane), a medium that Hellboy saved as a child.
Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), Hellboy’s adoptive human father and B.P.R.D. founder picks them up and pairs them up with Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim). Returning to the Osiris club to find them slaughtered by agents of the Blood Queen Nimue (Mila Jovovich). During the Dark Ages, Nimue unleashed a plague on mankind until she was stopped by King Arthur and Merlin. She was cut into six pieces and sealed away, but now the monsters have reunited her body and resurrected her to complete her work.
As the B.P.R.D. begins tracking down Nimue, Hellboy has a crisis of faith, a combination of daddy issues and general mistrust by humans whose first response to the supernatural is shoot on sight. Not helped by the prophecy that says he’s destined to cause the apocalypse.
This Hellboy doesn’t compare to the Del Toro duo starring Ron Pearlman. It hits on a lot of the same beats the original movie did, but it’s more miss than hit, it also substitutes a lot of the nuance for gore and swearing. It touches on the oxymoronic nature of Hellboy, showing his internal conflict, also his supporting are certainly more interesting than the typical redshirts. Ian McShane is phenomenal as usual and in the role once played by his friend the late John Hurt. All in all, an enjoyable romp for any Hellboy virgin but better stick to Del Toro.
By Daniel Murphy