The Jakarta Post
Released amid a busy time at theaters, with two successful superhero movies still gracing big screens, namely Disney's latest billion-dollar franchise Captain Marvel and the 91 percent-rated Shazam! on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame only two weeks away, it's safe to say that the 2019 Hellboy already has its work cut out for it.
The fact that it's a reboot instead of a sequel to Hellboy II: The Golden Army( 2008 ) as it was initially planned added another challenge, as it meant that it involved neither the genius Guillermo del Toro as director and writer nor the iconic Ron Perlman as the main character.
Eventually helmed by Nick Marshall, whose stints include directing a few episodes of popular TV series such as Game of Thrones and Westworld, with a screenplay penned by Andrew Cosby (Eureka, Haunted) and featuring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as the live-action superhero, the film has been announced as an R-rated flick, with Harbour describing it as "gory, [...] like a horror movie. There's a lot of blood in it. It's brutal."
Well, Harbour didn't lie. In fact, the film was obviously deemed too brutal that so many action scenes were censored during a press screening in Jakarta up to the point that they became very annoying: one second we were watching Hellboy throw a sharp object at a monster during a bloodied fight, then abruptly the scene was cut off, as the next thing we saw was the monster already dead with gruesomely fatal wounds -- and such happened throughout the film.
Some audience members could be heard voicing their disappointment toward the censors.
Hellboy terlalu banyak sensor, serasa nonton tv siaran lokal dengan layar segede gaban— Adhitya™ (@niskalaaa) April 10, 2019
Unfortunately, for the fans of the previous installments, aside from the frequent censors that made the watching experience quite confusing, the reboot's plot is also a mess. The film opens with the usual storyline of an evil witch defeated by the hero, who in this case is the legendary British leader King Arthur accompanied by his trusted wizard Merlin. However, instead of killing the medieval British sorceress aka Blood Queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich) for good, they decide to mutilate her then hide the body parts (with the head still very much alive) across the country.
Some years later, in a modern world where it's rather unclear whether monsters live among humans, Hellboy is seen looking for his colleague from the government organization Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense who went missing during some undercover mission. This previously-human friend, who turned out to be a monster, apparently decided to become a lucha libre wrestler in Tijuana, Mexico, and while in the ring he forces Hellboy to fight him upon seeing the latter's presence. Just before he dies, he utters something strange that confuses Hellboy and later we see him getting drunk in a bar, frustrated.
In the next scene, two ugly creatures are plotting revenge against Hellboy, which involves reviving the very powerful Nimue. From here, viewers can probably already guess what's going to happen, especially those familiar with the story of King Arthur and his legendary sword excalibur.
Presenting a predictable storyline is fine, especially since it's a reboot. However the rather fast-paced film offers too many subplots and characters that neither one of them is convincing or understood enough. It made an effort to be funny throughout the movie, which sometimes worked, but often times didn't. The choice to highlight a father-and-son relationship is quite interesting, however this is lazily shown in merely words between the two instead of adding flashback scenes of Hellboy's childhood or him growing up.
On a positive note, the film features convincingly horrifying-looking monsters which, like Harbour said, made it look like a horror movie. So fans of the genre will probably find it an interesting enough watch.
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