Sunday, December 23, 2018

am not liking the new "Hellboy" trailer

The Hellboy movies, directed by Guillermo del Toro and based on the quirkily drawn comics by Hellboy mastermind Mike Mignola (writing for Dark Horse Comics—not Marvel, and not DC), are the beloved first and second chapters of what was supposed to be a movie trilogy ending with something like the Apocalypse. All signs were pointing that way, when suddenly, the impetus for a third movie disappeared. The Hellboy movie franchise fell into desuetude, but fans kept the flame of hope alive, wanting to see del Toro and actor Ron Perlman team up one last time. Many Hellboy acolytes would now say that Perlman owns the role as the eponymous demon-hero, Anung An Rama, son of Satan, and del Toro's interpretation of the comics is seen, by those same people, as the definitive cinematic rendering of Hellboy.

I'm very familiar with the two movies, but I've never read a single comic, so for me, the del Toro/Perlman Hellboy is the only Hellboy I know. When word came that the Hellboy movies were going to be rebooted, I felt a mixture of excitement and dread. Later on, when I heard that neither del Toro nor Perlman would be involved in this new (and apparently much bloodier) take on the comics, the dread began to outweigh the excitement.

So here, at long last, is the official preview for "Hellboy," which simply cribs the title from both the comic series and del Toro's first movie, thereby cementing the notion that this will be a retread and not a continuation of the del Toro story.

I feel kind of bad for Ian McShane: the man is being typecast to play gods and mythic authority figures, a bit like the way Liam Neeson went through a phase in which he played Aslan, Zeus, and the wise yew tree in "A Monster Calls." Casting McShane in this new film strikes me as an unimaginative move. Then there's the matter of actor David Harbour, taking over for Ron Perlman as Hellboy. Harbour, currently best known for his role in the TV series "Stranger Things," is likable and talented enough, but his interpretation of Hellboy is one I disagree with. Note that moment, in the trailer, when Hellboy steps out of the police van and gets shot at. Harbour reacts to the rifle shot with a mad flailing of the arms—something Perlman would never have done. Perlman's Hellboy was massive, deliberate, and stoic, not zany and agitated. So right from the get-go, I don't like this new Hellboy. Comments beneath the video indicate that a lot of people are also unhappy with Hellboy's look: "He can barely move his face under all that makeup," is a common complaint.

There's a chance I'll see the movie, anyway, when it comes out. But if I do, it'll be out of morbid curiosity, not eager anticipation. I'd really love to see del Toro and Perlman back at the helm, and if there's enough of a fan backlash against this film, perhaps Lionsgate and Dark Horse Studios will pull their collective head out of their collective ass and give us that long-promised third installment.

TRIVIA: a Hellboy Animated series was also made. I never saw it. It, too, got two movies in, then sputtered to a halt. Is this series cursed?

You can read the sad story of the canceled del Toro sequel here.


SJHoneywell said...

I'm sort of in the same boat. For me, the only Professor Broom is John Hurt and there will be no other. It also appears that this new cinematic incarnation doesn't include Abe Sapien, and that's a disappointment as well.

The animated Hellboys are worth tracking down. They're both a lot of fun, and voiced by the original Hellboy cast, which makes them feel like a continuation of the movie series.

This version? I almost certainly won't see it in theaters.

Kevin Kim said...

Agreed. I'm missing all those characters intensely. John Hurt is dead, of course, but he's irreplaceable as the good doctor (who could have come back in flashbacks had Hurt still been alive), and while I do like Ian McShane a lot, I just felt that this was a bit of lazy casting based on the ongoing typecasting of McShane in these sorts of roles.

I thought I'd heard that Abe Sapien might actually be in the new version, but that his part would be relatively minor. Small comfort, that, and if Sapien isn't played by the awesome Doug Jones, well...

Here's an idea. I'm beginning to think the new "Hellboy" trailer is telling me more about myself, and my loyalties, than it's telling me about the upcoming movie. And I'm discovering that I'm fairly intensely brand-loyal to del Toro & Co.

Arun said...

I did not like this trailer either for the same reasons. David Harbour's very first scene as Hellboy/the shouting part was off putting.

The entire production reeks of incompetence and simple corporate greed to make quick bucks off the hard work of del Toro (and Ron Perlman).