Hellboy” (2019) inadvertently teaches a lesson about the way we perceive modern cinema. The CGI creatures and landscapes in director Neil Marshall’s film are technically creative and visually convincing, yet they are only impressive as individual moments; they don’t improve the overall film. Maybe it’s not a universal truism, but in this case, the movie is hurt by telling so much of its story via CGI – even though all of the CGI is very good.
After the solid “Hellboy” (2004) laid the groundwork, director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro and his team get to play in their sandbox in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008) – and boy, do they have fun, as did I while watching it. The top-shelf production design is still there, but now with a steampunk-meets-fantasy flavor. We visit a troll market that’s like an underground version of “Valerian’s” open-air market, and meet a secret agent named Johann (for some reason voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who is literally a cloud of vapor contained in a deep-sea diver’s suit.
Director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro and his team wonderfully bring Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comic book to the big screen in a 2004 film that has such top-shelf production design that it almost overshadows the story and characters. But not quite; Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is a likably gruff hero whose relationships with his adoptive father (John Hurt as Dr. Broom) and the woman he loves (Selma Blair as Liz) shine through.