Look, I’m not saying I won’t be watching Neil Marshall’s Hellboy reboot. I loved the comics, created by Mike Mignola, and I know there is plenty of story left to be mined there, beyond what Guillermo del Toro got to in his films. In fact, those previous films set the bar so high that I’ve been trying to steer clear of any information on this reboot, just to keep an open mind. So this trailer is really the first information I’ve seen, beyond the casting of Hot Dad Cop David Harbour as Hellboy himself — and I’ve got some thoughts…
What’s immediately obvious is how hard the film, or at least the trailer, is working to differentiate itself from del Toro’s work. It shows off some gritty action, while also confirming that Hellboy is still quick with a quip for every occasion. And though Hellboy is back with his surrogate father, Professor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), he’s got some fresh sidekicks this time around: Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) and Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), both characters from the comics. But it’s Milla Jovovich’s turn as the ancient sorceress Nimue that provides the biggest clue as to what comics material this film may be drawing from. Well, that and all the footage of Hell (and I’m not going to go into heavy spoilers, but if you’re curious you can look up the plot summary for the Hellboy comic arcs called “Darkness Calls,” “The Wild Hunt,” and — crucially — “The Storm and the Fury”).
But while all of that is intriguing, I have to admit — I’m underwhelmed by this trailer. Maybe it’s the fact that it reveals that Hellboy will regain his horns and that flaming crown at some point, something that seems both hugely pivotal AND is a bit of a letdown since that moment formed the backbone of the first Hellboy film’s climax. So is this a case of the trailer giving away too much of the plot, or is that moment somehow not actually important to the story?
Also disappointing is the fact that Harbour’s Hellboy doesn’t seem nearly as expressive as Ron Perlman’s. And I know this amount of footage isn’t enough to go on, and that’s not a knock on his acting so much as the make-up, and that Perlman was going to be a tough act to follow no matter what. But regardless of how hard I work to rationalize it, first impressions matter, and frankly I’m just not sold, yet.
I dig the cast (and I’m super curious to see Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson!), I love the material, and I want this film to work. The potential is there, but so are the pitfalls. We’ll just have to wait and see how well the full film pulls off this gamble when it hits theaters on April 12th.
Header Image Source: Lionsgate