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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 10, 2019


TWO “HELLBOY” films have been shown before, in 2004 and 2008, both directed by Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”). Now, Lionsgate has come up with a new version co-written by the comics creator himself, Mike Mignola, who chose to make it a reboot rather than do a mere sequel of the franchise’s first two movies which starred Ron Perlman in the title role.

The new “Hellboy” now stars David Harbour, best known as the police chief in the hit Netflix horror series, “Stranger Things”, in the title role. This is under the direction of Neil Marshall, best known for the horror flick, “The Descent”, and some of “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” episodes. It’s a different treatment this time, darker and more bloody, with more gore and foul language, making it much more faithful to the gritty nature of its original Dark Horse Comics material and more fit for adults than kiddie audiences.

Viewers who might think it’s just a continuation of the franchise will surely be in for a big surprise. In tone, it closely resembles more the irreverence and gallows humor of “Deadpool”, which viewers seem to enjoy so immensely, making it a real big box office success. It is also more grounded in horror and Hellboy himself is played as a younger, rougher and more volatile version than the original one played by Perlman.

He works for the government organization called Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense or BPRD. Harbour portrays him as a character who’s struggling with the idea of whether he is a good person or not. As such, he appears more complicated than before and more emotionally explosive. The new film also has a more contemporary feel than the previous ones as it’s set in present day London.

Hellboy’s antagonist in the new film is Nimue (Milla Jovovich of “Resident Evil” franchise), a medieval British sorceress called the Blood Queen who returns from the underworld to seek revenge from a past betrayal and now wants to destroy mankind. They seem to have a very unusual relationship. She exploits Hellboy’s own doubts and insecurities. She even tries to seduce him and enlist him to side with her so that, together, they can get to rule the world.

Ian McShane plays Hellboy’s adoptive father, Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm, the founder of the BPRD. Unlike before, Bruttenholm here is given a much harder and more expanded character than when he was played by the late John Hurt. He does not sympathize with Hellboy when the latter is deeply conflicted and questions his place in the world.

The back story of Hellboy shows he was summoned from the depths of hell on a stormy island off the coast of Scotland. Actor David Harbour is unrecognizable here with his special make up design as the imposingly tall half-demon with red skin, sawed-off horns and a tail, capturing a different version of Hellboy with his trademark Right Hand of Doom and his hooves.

Other characters in the movie are Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), a woman of Irish descent who Hellboy has saved and got some magical abilities after she was kidnapped by fairies as a baby, and Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost” and “Hawaii Five O”), a Japanese-American military member of the BPRD who can turn into a jaguar after he had a supernatural encounter.

Then there’s also Lobster Johnson (Thomas Haden Church), a vigilante with a knack for violence and known for putting his trademark lobster claw symbol on the forehead of those who kills; Ganeida (Penelope Mitchell), an older witch who wants to help in stopping Nimue in her mission to destroy the world; Lady Hatton (Sophie Okonedo), a fortune teller in an ancient club who helps uncover supernatural mysteries; Merlin (Brian Gleeson), a sorcerer who is inspired by the familiar figure from the story of King Arthur and Camelot; and Gruagach, a hog-like fairy who is loyal to Nimue, with Douglas Tait providing the physical appearance and Stephen Graham doing the voice overs.

The production design and special effects are all spectacular, creating scary giants, monsters, undead witches and other various inhabitants from hell that threaten to demolish modern-day society. Neil Marshall succeeds in coming up with some exciting and well executed action set pieces that will surely please action fans. The battle sequences make this latest version of “Hellboy” a fantasy-adventure flick about a different kind of superhero that you will not soon forget.