If you are thinking about the World’s Greatest Detective there is only one answer, Batman. But if you are talking about the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator to look into things that go bump in the night then you need the one who bumps back.
If you aren’t familiar with Hellboy he is the creation of Mike Mignola first appearing in comics in 1993 (the same year as Harley Quinn). In his comic origins, Hellboy was summoned to earth as a demon baby by Nazi occultists who were promptly thwarted by Allied troopers. Hellboy was adopted by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm aka Professor Broom) (previously played by William Hurt now played by American Gods Mr Wednesday and John Wick Hotel Management – Ian McShane) who was with the trooped who went on to form the United State Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense or B.P.R.D.
Hellboy grew up with Broom as his father/teacher and became the foremost paranormal investigator for the BRPD. With over 26 years of comics Hellboy has been dispatching demons, zombies, witches and assorted monsters to protect humanity with only his stone hand and his larger than life hand cannon – The Samaritan.
The new Hellboy film is not big red’s first outing to the big screen so let’s just get this out of the way right now – this is a reboot. Not a complete reboot with everything changing but more of a soft restart on Hellboy’s cinematic career. This does not pick up on the previous films with Ron Perlman as the Red Right Hand of Doom and does not expect you to have watched them either.
Still approaching Hellboy from the beginning, with elements of his origin story weaved into the film’s plot, the new Hellboy film is a bit messier carrying an R Rating (not for language but more for blood). This new film feels closer to a comic book adaption of the character than a big screen adaption like the previous two films. The feel is something like a horror comic but more Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness than Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead.
Introducing the new Hellboy as an already publicly known celebrity in an age of iPhones and Star Wars quotes in casual conversation, he already has a reputation and experience with no shortage of alluding to previous cases (from the comics) made by characters in the film scratching that this is just a one story set in a bigger world. The BRPD acting as the paranormal version of the MiB Hellboy in this film is sent across the globe where he is needed and for this story, it’s England for some of the usual ‘End of the World’ level big bad that needs thwarting.
As we have made clear the new film is a soft restart for Hellboy which seems to be much closer to his comic book roots in tone. The first film in what is clearly hoped to be a new series there is not a lot of familiar to draw comparisons with. While Hellboy both does and doesn’t work alone there is no Abe Sapien to help this time giving us a standalone Hellboy who still struggles with being accepted in humanity (including filing his horns down to fit in) but adding more rock like Royal Blood or Motley Crue during action sequences.
So should you go see it? This is a tricky one because while it is easy to compare this to the previous films the tone of this adaption being closer to the comics does set it apart. If you have ever picked up a Hellboy comic and know who Lobster Johnson is then this is a definite must watch for you. It is not a Marvel movie but does do a lot of the same things right here in taking from the source material that the first film may have missed for hardcore HB fans.
Even if you are a casual Hellboy fan and love characters like Ash Williams from Army of Darkness this should get on your watch list. That is, unless you want to risk Baba Yaga.
Hellboy is in cinemas right now across Australia