If Spider-Man can get a reboot five years after his last film, and an animated spin a year after that, then Hellboy easily deserves another turn at bat eleven years since his last flick. While the Guillermo del Toro films are adored by several, they left a want from fans of Mike Mignola’s source material. Ron Perlman’s Red was a little less gothic, a little more…uh, del Toro-ish. I’m not here to bag on that, but I’d like to see something resembling the more gothic, broodier aspect of the books.
New director Neil Marshall swears that his take is far removed from the previous cinematic outings and that it sticks closer to the narrative of the comics. David Harbour’s Hellboy is gruffer, meaner, and happy to let the obscenities loose. The first trailer piqued our curiosity but left us scratching our heads. Is this Hellboy that different than what we’ve seen before? Is this the comic book come to life? Hmmmmm…
The healthier attitude is to shed preconceived notions. Dark Horse Comics recently republished Mignola’s entire run in affordable trade paperbacks. I suggest you check those out. They’re rad. They exist, and they’re their own thing. Same goes for the del Toro movies. Why don’t we just look at what Marshall has in store for us and try to judge it as its own thing? I know that’s hard for us fanatics. I’m speaking mostly to myself, here.
Alrighty then. As we thought from the first trailer, that’s not quite the Guillermo del Toro version, and it’s not quite the Mike Mignola comic book. That’s ok. Marshall and Harbour are rockin’ to their own heavy metal anthem, and you better join them or go running for the hills. We’ve got fire swords, fire crowns, fire dragons, blood showers, jaguar gods, bat gods, devil gods, and f-bombs. This new red band trailer is certainly trying to make a statement. Put your past aspirations of the character behind and let’s dig in.
I tip my hat to you, mad men. With this fiery MPAA card, the marketers make a promise. What we’re about to see is so metal, blasphemous, and gnarly that the red band itself melts in its presence. Those that are desperate for a Hard R Hellboy get giddy in their seats.
We knew that Marshall would be revisiting Hellboy’s origins, but I’m still a little surprised at how much we’re going to see of his re-birth on Earth considering what a significant moment it was in del Toro’s original. This first shot of the Nazi-occupied Scottish island is ominous enough. We hear Sophie Okonedo’s Lady Hatton explain to an offscreen, adult Hellboy that this is where “something was summoned from the depths of hell.”
As she continues with “Something that would end mankind,” we catch a brief glimpse of the immortal Rasputin working through his Lovecraftian resurrection ritual before getting this long push into the villainous Von Krupt. Seriously, how many swastikas does one Nazi need? He’s overcompensating for something.
We hear Harbour’s voice, “And this something that you’re worried about – did it show up?” Enter Laddy Hatton, Malcolm Frost, and Professor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) packing one mean, fanciful shotgun pistol. Unlike the del Toro film, this version seems to keep true to the comic book’s opening, in which Hellboy failed to appear before the Nazis and instead materialized in East Bromwich, England. Another change between John Hurt’s Prof. Broom and McShane’s Prof. Bruttenholm is that this educator appreciates serious firepower. No wheezing, sick old man here.
Laddy Hatton answers Hellboy’s question, “Oh yes, you did.” Look at this cutie! Adorable. Although, I have to wonder, why didn’t Hellboy know about his first steps on Earth? Did Bruttenholm simply not want to get into it with his adopted son, or is it an awkward thought that Hellboy has always fled. When you’re big and red, and you shave down your horns regularly, I guess you’re the type of personality that doesn’t like to ask too many genealogical questions.
Harbour’s Hellboy harbors (heh) resentment towards dear old dad. He chastises Bruttenholm, “You made me a goddamn weapon” and the trailer puts a button on the moan with a blast from his gun.
Cut to Daniel Dae Kim as Agent Ben Daimio getting to drop the first f-bomb of the trailer, “Where’s my fuckin’ violin.” This former Marine who died and returned thanks to a curse from a Jaguar cult has very little sympathy for a mopey beast of the apocalypse. Their relationship begins with the typical antagonism but eventually grows into mutual monster appreciation.
The trailer turns its rendition of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” to eleven as Professor Bruttenholm introduces the villain of the piece – the fifth-century sorceress, Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich). The witches of England gather ’round, ready to swear allegiance to the woman that promises to return the planet to the fairy folk. Man has ruined their realm and is unworthy of the land they stand upon. They gotta go.
She “wants to bring down the curtain on London and the world” and she’s going to do that with an infestation of creepy crawlies. While this trailer may not be the dark and gritty scene Marshall was championing at last year’s NYCC; it’s definitely filled with –
– bloody money shots! Hellboy joins “The Wild Hunt,” a group of British noblemen who spend their free time hunting giants. They’re not as welcoming as they first seemed, and Hellboy turns on their rank before taking on the brutes of a larger variety. Notice the flesh wound at the center of Hellboy’s chest. That could be an ordinary battle wound, or it could represent a more catastrophic assault. In the comic book mini-series “The Fury,” Hellboy finally reaches Hell after Nimue rips his heart from his chest, effectively killing him. While not tied to this scene in “The Wild Hunt,” Marshall could escalate matters so that we get to the fire dragons all the quicker.
The bloody money shot from the other side. Marshall is really trying to go for the Fangoria crowd. I do not mind, but it’s furthering itself from the source material. Mignola’s books are more gothic than gore, and the foulest they get is an “Aw Crap” here and a “Son of a -” there. Shut up, Brad. The comics exist. Get over yourself. Let this be its own thing, dammit. Ok, ok.
Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) seems to have discovered the ability to punch the soul out of a person’s body. As an infant, Hellboy saved her from a nefarious fairy, and now it’s her turn to fight off the magical folk that are up to no-good.
Nimue asks Hellboy, “Why do you fight for those that hate and fear you?” Good question and a tempting enough reason to lure him to her dark side. She wants a demonic union with H.B., a king to rule beside her queen.
“You were meant for this.” Hellboy takes hold of Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, and it alights at his touch. He is of royal blood. We get a few shots closer to the fire dragons. Oh yeah. Be patient.
Out of the ashes and pits of hell, Nimue brings forth hellish kaijus Rasputin could barely comprehend. Londoners watch out; you’re shish kebab. Stab, stab, slice, slice. Your Tower Bridge is but a plaything for demons.
“Haven’t we got to be saving the world or something?” Alice tools up, her enchanted brass knuckles allowing her to control and channel her soul-punching ability. She’s not going to sit back and play spectator to Hellboy’s warrior.
Hellboy punches Daimio in the face with his Right Hand of Doom, “Let’s get your game face on.” In response, we finally get to see Danial Dae Kim have his Were-Jaguar in London moment.
In a trailer filled with witches, giants, monsters, dragons, and demons, this is my favorite shot. Hellboy and Jaguar Daimio side-by-side, squaring off against an equally horrific creature. Whatever questions or qualms you might have about Marshall following in the footsteps of Mignola and del Toro have to fade away for a moment or two. This is badass.
Charging at the heroes is Gruagach (voiced by Douglas Tait), the fairy imprisoned within a boar-shaped giant. He’s a furious beast with a massive grudge against Hellboy and the humans of Earth. He sides with Nimue because he’d rather watch the world burn than spend another second on it as this wretched pig. This is the smackdown I’m anticipating the most.
We saw this exact shot of Camzotz (voiced by Mario de la Rosa), the bat-god luchador in the last trailer, but the digital artists took another pass on the beast, and he looks better than ever. Richard Corben, eat your heart out.
The Baba Yaga’s chicken-leg house wanders through the woods. You either go with it, or you don’t, but Hellboy is a celebration of weird and wonderful mythology, and it doesn’t get much weirder or wonderful than a chicken-leg house.
Inside, we’re gifted a quick shot of the Baba Yaga herself. She’s a real looker and a character that could have easily stepped off the set of Willow or Time Bandits.
If you’re going to mess with the Queen of Blood, then you’re going to have to endure blood showers. It’s her kink. Hellboy doesn’t get much love in the comics, but it’s nice for these films to find him some romance in his unique way. Nimue love is fleeting though.
Ah. Here we are. Hellboy in Hell, astride a fire dragon, wearing a fire crown, and swinging a fiery Excalibur. We have a new member to join our favorite cinematic dragons, and if anyone ever deserved to be airbrushed onto the side of an eighties van mural, it’s this guy. Hellboy steers the winged serpent through a crowd of the damned, jumping off the back of the beast to wage war on the denizens of Pandemonium.
Nimue makes one last plea to Hellboy, “Be my king. We belong together you and I.” Ah, but this fella is not looking to get tied down. His response, “We do, but this is not going to work because I’m a Capricorn and you’re FUCKING nuts.” Gotta get one more in there – Hard R, people!
To drive his point home, Hellboy rams Excalibur into a seal on the floor. He’s ripping open the gates of hell and taking the fight to the baddest of the bad. Is that Nimue? Or will he discover new threats below? I don’t know. I’m a little weary of Marhsall’s tone, but I also feel like if you give up what you want the character to be, or if you have no idea of what the character is, then this film could be an absolute silly blast at the movies. Whatever the case, my tickets are purchased.
Hellboy opens in theaters on April 12th.