Hellboy (David Harbour) is raised by his adoptive father Professor Broom (Ian McShane) to work alongside humans in the Bureau for Paranormal Research – an organisation that protects people from otherworldly forces who threaten the planet. Hellboy’s supernatural abilities are put to the test when the Blood Queenis raised from the undead, in a bid to take revenge on humans who tried to destroy her ages ago. Neil Marshall’s reboot of Guillermo Del Toro’s two films based on this comic-book universe aims to set itself apart with a distinctly gory, and expletive-laden tone. Marshall understands how to stage large scale action set pieces, and there are a couple of sequences that are disturbing, yet hilarious. But there’s little else of note.
Milla Jovovich as the villain is bad, and not in a cheesy yet enjoyable manner. She struggles to convey the required sense of menace; her dialogue delivery fluctuates between wooden and comical. It also doesn’t help that the Blood Queen is a weak antagonist who holds a lot of promise but doesn’t quite bring it eventually. Meanwhile, David Harbour is perfectly cast as the lead character. Hellboy is mighty while being snappy with oodles of wit, and Harbour nails down his devilishly fun persona. Ian McShane also attempts to add some pathos to the distorted father-son relationship Professor Broom shares with Hellboy.
Sadly, as soon as you begin to appreciate these sub-plots, the next action sequence is thrown at us. The tonality is wildly uneven which isn’t helped as outrageous characters enter the narrative with little context, and often exit quickly as well. If Marshall’s mere intent was to shock you with excessive gore and expletives, then he manages to do that. It isn’t quite enough, especially if you leave the theatre confused about what just happened, due to a ludicrous plot. Despite McShane and Harbour’s best efforts, this exhaustive ‘end-of-the-world’ story is unable to raise as much hell as it should.
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