‘HELL­BOY’ IS A TRULY CRAZY MON­STER MASH

The Tribune (SLO) - - Ticket - BY KATIE WALSH

Per­haps it was when Hell­boy (David Har­bour) chased a pig baby changeling in a di­a­per up a chim­ney that it fully hit me. I couldn’t help but won­der: What on earth am I watching? The in­san­ity was al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, though it’s par for the course in the world of “Hell­boy.” In this new re­boot, Har­bour takes over the brawny red-faced role from Ron Perl­man; splat­ter max­i­mal­ist Neil Mar­shall takes the reins be­hind the cam­era from Mex­i­can mon­ster maven Guillermo del Toro. Re­leased from the con­fines of Wes­teros, where he’s been toil­ing as the res­i­dent bat­tle au­teur on “Game of Thrones,” Mar­shall tears into the gothic fan­tasy comic book prop­erty “Hell­boy” with a star­tling zeal, and a blood­thirsty zest for grime and gore.

With this noisy, fast,

chaotic “Hell­boy,” Mar­shall is at his most cheeky and most un­hinged. It’s cer­tainly… a lot. Har­bour is an ideal choice to sport the crown of sawed-off horns as the de­mon with a heart of gold, an investigator work­ing for his father (Ian Mc­Shane) at the Bu­reau of Para­nor­mal Research and De­fense. Har­bour has a warmth and hu­mor that shines through all the pros­thet­ics, and an ease with sar­cas­tic wise­cracks too. The snarky asides, which per­me­ate even the solemn voice-over that opens the film (which starts in yes, the 5th cen­tury, with yes, King Arthur), let us know every­one here is in on the joke. It’s OK to laugh with the movie, even if it feels like we’re laugh­ing at it.

De­scrib­ing the plot of this truly crazy mon­ster mash is a fool’s er­rand. The gist is mon­ster hunter Hell­boy has to con­front his own ori­gins and ex­is­tence as half-man, half­mon­ster while bat­tling to save the world from the great­est mon­ster of all, the Blood Queen witch Vi­vian Nimue (Milla Jovovich), who was dis­mem­bered by King Arthur and locked in sep­a­rate coffins to keep her from run­ning roughshod over the earth with her mon­ster gang.

But within that general frame­work, writer Andrew Cosby has stuffed a rogue’s gallery of ghoul­ish char­ac­ters, sub­plots and flash­backs. To crib that old ch­est­nut from “Satur­day Night Live,” this movie has EV­ERY­THING: gi­ants, witches, lucha li­bre wrestlers, chee­tah were­wolves, Nazi oc­cult rit­u­als fea­tur­ing cameos by both Rasputin and Leni Riefen­stahl, Sasha Lane as a psy­chic who pukes up slimy spir­i­tual ap­pari­tions, a boar-man with a Scot­tish ac­cent and an iron jock­strap, Win­ston Churchill’s desk, an amus­ing ap­pear­ance from Mer­lin, mys­ti­cal secret so­ci­eties and of course, Baba Yaga.

All this comes straight from the comic, so fans should be pleased at the depth and breadth of the lore in the film. Those who are less fa­mil­iar with the Hell­boy canon might be over­whelmed, as this all hur­tles at a relentless, un­for­giv­ing pace, glued to­gether with many, many crunchy gui­tar licks. You don’t so much as watch this movie as sub­mit to be­ing pum­meled by it.

Go get your “Hell­boy” fix, be­cause despite its epic ambitions, this movie is so ba­nanas it re­mains to be seen if Big Red will ever grace the sil­ver screen again.

MARK ROGERS Lionsgate

From left, Daniel Dae Kim, David Har­bour and Sasha Lane star in “Hell­boy.”

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