[SPOILERS] Hellboy 2019

Hellboy is a dark, gothic, cosmic horror style graphic novel series created by Mike Mignola, who originally introduced the character in Dime Press #4 (May 1993) which was an Italian exclusive comic series. However he was first introduced to the rest of the world in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (August 1993). It’s primary character, known as Hellboy or by his demon name Anung Un Rama, is a large red devil-like character with a heart of gold. He is actually a creature known as a Cambion which in European Mythology, is the offspring of any demon, be it incubus, succubus or other type, and a human being. To put it simply, Hellboy is actually only half-demon, which means he’s also half-human which probably helps explain his appearance.

In 2004, Mexican Filmmaker, Guillermo Del Toro, brought his vision of Hellboy to life starring a brilliant cast including Ron Perlman as Hellboy, John Hurt as Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien just to name a few. This film proved to be a huge success as it even recieved a sequel four years later with Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) with some of the main cast returning for their leading roles. Since 2008 however, there has been no live action adaptations of the character although many fans, along with Perlman and del Toro themselves, tried to get a third film made, which would have seen Perlman reprise his role as Hellboy. Sadly this never came to pass, and the years went by without Hellboy, although Ron Perlman did reprise the role in voice only for the two animated films ‘Sword of Storms’ (2006) & ‘Blood and Iron’ (2007), a video short called ‘Iron Shoes‘ (2007) and in the videogame ‘Hellboy: The Science of Evil’ (2008).

 Fast forward to 2017, with the rise in popularity of shows like Stranger Things bringing us new faces to our screens with shed loads of talent, and we have a recipe for new ideas and visions. Mike Mignola himself announced a new, rebooted Hellboy film, which might not have been what audiences and fans of the Guillermo del Toro films wanted to hear, but it was still very exciting news because we were going to be a getting a darker, grittier, gorier adaptation of the character and his world, with Mignola himself work on it closer than he had done for the previous films. David Harbour would be taking on the role of the half-demon this time and when the first image of his new look dropped, I think it’s safe to say that expectations soon flew sky high because Harbour looked badass as the wielder of the Right Hand of Doom!

This film also cast famous names such as Ian McShane (John Wick, Lovejoy, American Gods) as the new Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm, and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, The Fifth Element, Dazed and Confused) as Nimue The Blood Queen. This film was already shaping up to be a great film with lots more in store for those of us who are fans of the character and the graphic novels.

April 12th 2019 soon came around and ‘Hellboy’ was released! I couldn’t wait to see this film at the cinema, and I was not disappointed…but it seemed that some people were, though I cannot entirely fathom why. I think this film is underrated but let me talk more about that later. For now, heres the review.


The film opens with an introductory sequence as expected, giving us a little bit of background history on some of the characters, but not Hellboy. The opening sequence on the film concentrates on Nimue the Blood Queen, and her story of vengeance. The scene is accompanied by a voice over from Ian McShane which due to the writing of the film is somewhat comedic with lines such as “The year is 517 A.D. known as the Dark Ages…and for fucking good reason!”. This was the first line in the film and I already knew we were in for a treat with this film. The black and white filter over the gory imagery helped keep the tone of ‘the dark ages’ as we watch the story unfold.

As Nimue arrives on screen we’re treated to a very Sin City-esque style as the majority of the image is filtered into a monochrome whilst Nimue’s flowing red cloak shines through, no doubt representing the emphasis of ‘blood’. This emphasis becomes more apparent as Nimue is decapitated leaving pools of blood on the floor which are also brought out from the monochrome with it’s dark red tone.

The story continues to unfold as we are soon introduced to a fiery title card, followed quickly by our leading character arriving in Mexico. This introduction to the protagonist is influenced directly by the graphic novel titled ‘Hellboy In Mexico’. In this story set during the 1950s rather than the films modern day setting, Hellboy caravans across Mexico with a trio of vampire-killing luchadores, finding the undead; a bat god; and of course they wind up drinking a lot of tequila.
     In the film, there is no trio of luchadores, but there is a luchadore wrestling match happening, which soon escalates into our first look at the creatures of this film, as a large bat creature graces our screens and it is awesome looking! The CGI in this film isn’t the best but it’s certainly spectacular. The creatures don’t look entirely computer generated and blend well with the rest of the visuals on screen.

The relationship between Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) and his ‘son’ Hellboy (David Harbour) somewhat differs from the del Toro films. Harbour seems to be more of a stroppy teenager rather than Perlman’s disobetiant yet more adult portrayal of the character. We do get to see the infamous filing of the horns that give Hellboy his signature look. Hellboy seems to converse more with his father, whereas in the 2004 film, Hellboy seemed almost reluctant to talk to his father, most likely due to being kept somewhat of a prisoner in the B.P.R.D headquarters instead of being allowed to go out into the world to visit/check up on Liz Sherman. In this new adaptation, it appears that Hellboy and the B.P.R.D are already well established and Hellboy is in fact sent out on more missions than Perlman’s version was allowed to go on. Harbours Hellboy seems free to roam where and when he likes, but understands that being seen by the public is dangerous, though that doesn’t seem to stop him, and so surely the world already knows about him as he’s surely been photographed and tweeted about many times in the past.

Reaching the twenty minute mark, The film transports us from America to England as Hellboy is told to pay a visit to the Osiris Club, a British organization similar to the B.P.R.D (Bureau of Paranormal Reasearch and Defense). During this visti, we are treated to the fimilar origin story of Hellboy himself, which involves a small island off the coast of Scotland, some Nazi’s, and a strange ritual to open the gates of hell itself in order to unleash something.
     Here we are treated to a character that was not in the del Toro films, and that character is a vigilante/Nazi hunter known as Lobster Johnson. Fans of the B.P.R.D and Hellboy series will know who this character is, so it was a treat to see him in live action finally, after he was cut from del Toro’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, via request from Mike Mignola, but was then planned to appear in the unproduced Hellboy 3 with the legendary Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell in mind to take on the role which I personally would love to see as I think Campbell would suit the role perfectly.

This scene is one of the few moments in the film where the speech from the cast seems perfectly timed. One thing I noticed during this film was that a lot of the speech in many scenes, seems rushed, with very little pause between conversations. When once character says something, another responds without time to process the first part of the conversation, which makes the scenes seem somewhat unrealistic (as odd as that is to say about a film involving demons and monsters) as well as it hindering on some of the scenes atmospheres. If it’s a comical response, it doesn’t come across with good comedic timing, it just feels like a quiprather than a well thought out joke. This isn’t to say that the quips and jokes aren’t funny. The film is full of great humour which helps lighten the mood of the very gory & horrifying themes and visuals of the film.

New characters are introduced that fans of the comics will recognise, such as Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), and Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) which completes this films version of a trinity. Alice is introduced as a powerful medium who can talk to the spirits of the dead, whilst Ben remains somewhat of a mystery, as we see him injecting himself with some form of medicine to help ease his little panicked emotional moments. It can be speculated what this is for but the big reveal happens later in the film during one of the final action sequences.

One thing I came to realise watching this film, is that it isn’t entirely full of information regarding it’s characters. There’s plemty of backstories for each of the main cast whether it’s Nimue the Blood Queen, Hellboy, Alice or Major Ben Daimio. Meaning that this film feels very much like it’s made for fans who are already familiar with the characters, whilst giving just enough information for new audiences to get an idea of what’s going on. For instance there’s a scene in which Hellboy is injured, and after awakening to find he’s being cared for by someone who’s not B.P.R.D, she rips off a bandage to show that his wounds are already nearly healed after a short period of time. Hellboys healing factor isn’t mentioned at all previously and so this is the first and only real moment in the film where audiences learn he has a healing ability without it ever being explained.

In comparison to Guillermo del Toro’s films, this new Hellboy film concentrates heavily on the use of CGI creatures such as the giant bat like creatures and the many Dark Souls-esque abomination giants that continue to wreak havoc in London. I would have liked to see more practical effects, but with this adaptation being the one that brings us deepere into the world of hellish creatures from the comics, I can understand why they went CGI heavy. Especially with effects such as the spirits that channel themselves through Alice to talk to Hellboy during certain scenes.
     The preactical effects such as Harbours makeup and the scars, blood, and guts etc. are all brilliant and used well within the scenes. Guillermo del Toro used practical effects to bring his whole film in an artistic direction, whilst this version is all about the action rather than the artistic appearance.

The interaction between the cast is always spot on. From Hellboys (Harbour) father & son relationship with Bruttenholm (McShane), to his rivalry with Major Ben Daimio (Kim) which later evolves into a somewhat love-hate friendship, and then of course there’s also Hellboys caring nature for Alice (Lane). This trinity helps bring the characters closer together and forms a strong leading team to set up for possible future sequels. However, due to the film not being as successful critically, a sequel might not be seen now, which honestly is upsetting to me as I think there is so much great content to be explored in this world and these characters need their time to shine through and evolve further than they do in this film.

Around the halfway mark and we are finally re-introduced to one of the creepiest characters in the film. We saw a small scene earlier on where she interacts with the Gruagach (Stephen Graham) a.k.a the pig-man creature, but now we get to see more of Baba Yaga and how she moves around, which is using very creepy contortional motions that give her a very broken appearance, to add to her already unappealing appareance.
     This scene also gives us glimpse at how deep into the folklore Mike Mignola’s world brings us. In Slavic folklore, the Baba Yaga is said to live in the forest, in a cottage that has chicken legs. This is exactly what we see when Hellboy arrives and the visuals help bring the world alive, which Hellboy later explains is a parallel dimension to Earth.

We finally return to Pendle Hill for the first time since the historical back story opening of the film, as Nimue begins to regain her full power and the final event of the film begins to unfold. Alice discovers a new power to her abilities and Hellboys destiny is revealed in yet another back story that tells the audience how Hellboy was born and that his true name is Anung Un Rama, but not only that, it is revealed that Hellboy is half-human which is the first time we’ve heard this fact in the film.
     Throughout the film there are multiple references to Hellboys prophecy, about how he’ll bring about the end of the world. If you’ve seen the del Toro films then you have an idea of what this is about. This is where the name Anung Un Rama comes into play which was first heard during the scene in Mexico back in Hellboys opening scene of the film. Hellboy is also told by Merlin that he shares a bloodline of the famous King of the Britons, King Arthur himself, which gives him the ability to wield the legendary sword Excalibur!

As Hellboy attempts to keep a promise, we are treated to a very metal scene. A vision of what Hellboys destiny truly is. This is the first time we see Hellboy with his full horns and fiery crown, wielding the flaming sword. The landscape is representing hell on earth as Anung Un Rama rides a big demonic dragon! This scene is possible my favourite of the film and would be great to see more of, although it serves little purpose other than to reveal to Hellboy and the audience, that his actions to try and save the world could also have dire consequences.

We get our next big fight scene shortly after as Hellboy finally throws down with the Gruagach who is now bigger and more powerful. This is also the first time we discover Daimio big secret. After his backstory on Pendle Hill, it is revealed to us that Daimio became the creature that scarred his face. A Were-Jaguar of sorts that is fast, ferocious and packs a sharp set of claws that can rip and shred his foes.

As the film closes out with a gore fest across London, Hellboy overcoming his true nature in order to be the hero rather than the villain, and the world is restored somewhat to a natural order. Although as mentioned before, there seems to be a nice set up for the sequels to come (or not to come as it now seems) as the finale skips to six months later and our trinity of heroes are on a mission together kicking ass, with a nice little easter egg to finish off the film as we see Alice reveal a name plate that read Icthyo Sapien, April 14 1865 (the date in which Abraham Lincoln was Assassinated hence his name ‘Abe’) , before a familiar looking hand appears on the glass. This is of course the introduction of Abe Sapien (although that particular name isn’t mentiones or seen anywhere in this film, he was one of the prominant characters in del Toro’s two Hellboy films) into this new films universe, but as previously mentioned mulitple times now, the critical failure for this film seems to have doomed any hopes of a sequel.

Overall this film is a fast paced, action filled epic for those who are fans of the graphic novels, with plenty of straight from the page adaptations thanks to Mike Mignola’s role in the films production. If you wish to read into these stories more, this film concentrates mostly on these particular books;

– Darkness Calls
– Hellboy in Mexico
– The Wild Hunt
– The Storm and the Fury

I really enjoyed this film and really want at least one sequel to give the characters a time to shine now that they have been established. The effects, costume designs, and overall plot were ace, but the film seemed rushed in places with it’s writing and it’s editing. The film seems to skip through scenes more than it transitions which hinders it’s viewing pleasures, whilst the speech also seems rushed as mentioned previously, making the film seem like it’s trying to skip over the important details and get to the next action sequence rather than bask in the glory of fine details and plot points.
     Despite it’s faults I would say this film gets 4 stars out of 5 from me as it’s highly enjoyable, with great humour (when executed properly), incredible gory and horrific visuals that really bring the hell into the world of Hellboy. The cast were all spot on and so was their chemistry on screen together, making a worthy successor to the del Toro films in my personal opinion.

Also a heads up for those who either didn’t know or haven’t watch the film yet, there are in fact two credit scenes, one in the mid credits, after all the title credits of the main cast etc. and one at the end of the final credits. Check out my spoiler review to find out what these scenes include.

Hellboy is out on Digital Download Now, and will be released in the UK on DVD/Blu Ray on August 19th 2019!


The first credits scene reveals Hellboy drunk as hell (see what I did there), singing ‘Danny Boy’ and talking to his fathers grave, before being interupted by none other than Lobster Johnson himself. Hellboy freaks out and proceeds to fanboy over meeting his childhood hero, who helps push him the right direction, claiming that he won a battle but now he must win a war.

The final credit scene returns us to the presence of Baba Yaga, who is still just as horrifyingly creepy. She appears to be conversing with someone and making a deal, and whilst we hear another voice, it is not revealed who this voice belongs to. It is only revealed that this being is willing to kill Hellboy and make a deal with Baba Yaga to bring her the eye that Hellboy promised to give her during an earlier scene.

It is also revealed that this beings greatest wish to finally be allowed to die, which gives us some clue as to who it could be. In Slavic folklore, which Hellboy draws a lot of it’s inspirations from, there is a character called Koschei the Deathless. This character has appeared in the Hellboy series of graphic novels as someone who is a slave to Baba Yaga. She owns his soul, which means that Koschei literally cannot die, no matter what. So this would be the most likely answer to the question “Who is Baba Yaga talking to?”.

Again these scenes are all great set ups for a sequel that may never be and I may sound like a broken record but come on! This film was not as bad as people are making it out to be. It’s an incredible film with fantastic action sequences and a hellish world to explore.

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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life

Keith R.A. DeCandido's mad ramblings

The Joker’s HQ

News, reviews and opinions on all things geek!

DCs Earth-9

Travelling the Multiverse

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