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Is gory 'Hellboy' already a box-office bomb?

Cary Ashby • Apr 21, 2019 at 8:51 AM

“Hellboy” has barely been out of a week and it’s already being called a box-office bomb.

Granted, there was a small crowd when I saw the movie based on Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse Comics character during an afternoon showing at Premiere Theatre 8 in Norwalk. Another factor going against “Hellboy” is it was released between “Shazam!” (which was reviewed here April 10) and “Avengers: Endgame,” which comes out next week and is sure to rewrite the box-office record books. That’s a tight window in which to grab some dough and get fannies in the seats.

It’s astonishing to think that April now has become a go-to early release date to get a jump-start on the summer movie season. March and April used to be considered a time of year when films were released to die; it was as if studios were saying, “Well, we have to release this thing some time, so here ya go. …”

Five years ago, Marvel Studios proved with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” — still one of Marvel’s greatest films — that early April could be a great time to release a movie. Before that, the original “Matrix” was the exception to the rule that spring was a dead time for Hollywood throwaways.

Back to “Hellboy.” This is the third live-action take on Mignola’s creation.

The DigitalSpy website says “the omens were not looking good for British director Neil Marshall's reboot,” due partially to reviews being “embargoed until just a day before its release.” As of press time, “Hellboy” only has made about $14.3 million.

The first two movies, both starring Ron Perlman in the title role, are a fun time. Director Guillermo del Toro was a nearly perfect match for Hellboy’s quirky world and the agency for which he works, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).

This “Hellboy” is a reboot because … well, what else does Hollywood do these days?

Actor David Harbour does a fine job of playing the gruff and tough Hellboy. The big guy has a heart of gold — even if he is the spawn of Satan initiated by the Nazis as a last-ditch effort in World War II. He has been working for the BPRD for quite a while, long enough to have earned the reputation of being a trusted investigator and somewhat of a celebrity in the paranormal community.

His earthly father, who was there at Hellboy’s “birth,” fails to tell Hellboy the full extent of his origin, which causes a rift for a good part of the movie. Hellboy suddenly is frustrated he only is being used as a weapon against paranormal creatures and threats instead of the BPRD finding another way to handle them. That becomes a way for the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) to try to sway him into becoming her king.

The character designs are fantastic. While I wouldn’t say they’re a treat for the eyes, the beings in the Hellboy world are fascinating creations. Don’t be surprised if the movie receives some related Oscar nominations.

Overall, “Hellboy” is enjoyable. What dulled a good part of my enjoyment is the violence and bloodshed; they are simply too much. Given the superfluous gore and certainly the dismemberments, the movie is a “hard R.” Make no doubt about it: “Hellboy” is nothing close to family-friendly and certainly not a date movie. But this casual fan enjoyed seeing the big red guy return to the big screen.

Grade: B+

Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter. He shares his views, reviews, previews and interviews about the superhero industry on his Cary’s Comics Craze blog, caryscomicscraze.blogspot.com. CCC ran as a twice-monthly column in the Reflector for nearly 10 years.

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