Hellboy finally hits theaters this Friday, but if you’ve read any of the early reviews, you’re probably worried. This film is getting completely slammed by critics, who are saying it is not only a major disappointment, but perhaps even one of the worst films of the year. But before you decide not to see it, you should know that we here at Fiction’s Mistress are of a different opinion.
I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto Premiere of Hellboy on Wednesday night, and I’ll admit, it wasn’t what I was expecting. This film is being marketed as an action/horror, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you will be disappointed. That is not what Hellboy is.
Hellboy is filled with some truly gruesome moments, to be sure. Scenes so gory that you could hear the groans and see the cringes in the audience. Seriously, you are not ready for Baba Yaga. But it’s also filled to the brim with overwhelmingly, hilariously cheesy moments. In fact, some of these overlap! This tone is set in the first 60 seconds of the film, and will have you both laughing and cringing at once. It completely threw us. It wasn’t what we were expecting at all. It’s much funnier, much weirder, with a very different tone than we were anticipating. But it was still enjoyable. Why? Because we weren’t comparing it to our expectations. If you’re looking for a hardcore action film with a lot of gore, you won’t be happy leaving the theater. Drop those expectations, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Hellboy, of course, is not without its flaws. The Blood Queen, played by the talented Milla Jovovich, is unquestionably powerful, but lacks depth. The role was fun and menacing, there’s no question about it. But we never really get to understand her intentions, her emotions, or even who she is. We get the basics, and that just wasn’t enough for me.
I have to say perhaps my biggest critique about this film is its plot. It feels thrown together, and quite honestly, I’m not sure I could give you a straight answer as to what the plot of the film is. There’s a lot going on, in some places, too much. But this film is driven by its characters, and none better than the lead himself, Hellboy.
Played masterfully by David Harbour, his performance is hands down the best thing about this film. He brings such depth to the role and to the world. It’s so easy for a character like this to be completely unrelatable, to alienate the audience, in a sense. But Harbour’s portrayal is grounded, and reminds us that at the end of the day, we’re all just searching for our place in this world, for where we belong. Harbour’s solid performance and likability is what stands out above all else.
There’s no end to the powerful secondary characters, each more fascinating than the last. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be found in this wacky gang, and if the film had developed the villain as well as they did everyone else, this film would be much better received. But every film has its flaws, and at the end of the day, I don’t think they should necessarily define the movie.
The music in Hellboy is nothing short of epic, and the effects are positively gorgeous. The tone of this film is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and that really works in its favor. Hellboy, much like the character, is unapologetic about what it is. And I think that’s what makes this film enjoyable. It may not have a defined plot, it may have its flaws, but if you can accept its very odd nature, it’s actually quite enjoyable. It isn’t perfect, but it’s utterly unique. And that is a film we can get behind.
Hellboy Hits Theaters This Friday.