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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hellboy is a new take on Mike Mignola's popular superhero comic book series about a demonic antihero. Unlike the earlier, PG-13 adaptations that came out in 2004 and 2008, this version is rated R. And no wonder: It's extremely violent, with tons of computer-generated blood and gore. Characters are killed, and there are torn-up body parts, severed heads and limbs, and gouged tongues and eyeballs. There's also lots of fighting, with punching, throwing, and smashing, as well as slicing and stabbing with swords and arrows. Scenes include creepy monsters and other scary stuff, and children's bodies are briefly shown hanging from a ceiling. Language is also strong, with frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and more. There's a quick, non-graphic glimpse of a topless woman, seen from the side, and a couple of spoken sexual references. Hellboy (David Harbour) sometimes gets very drunk, with no consequences. This movie is missing some of the magic that made the previous two work so well, but it's worth a look for mature fans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In HELLBOY, a flashback explains how King Arthur defeated the evil Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) and scattered her body parts to keep her from re-forming. In the present, Hellboy (David Harbour) goes to Mexico to find a missing colleague, only to discover that he's turned into a vampire. Back at Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) headquarters, Hellboy learns that a monster called Gruagach (Stephen Graham) has been stealing the queen's body parts so that he can re-assemble her, which will bring about the end of human life. At the same time, premonitions say that Hellboy himself will somehow contribute to this, which causes several of his would-be colleagues -- including a secret organization that holds one of the queen's limbs -- to try to kill him. When the queen becomes whole, Hellboy teams with Alice (Sasha Lane) and the B.P.R.D.'s Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) for a final showdown ... with the world itself at stake.
Is it any good?
This reboot, the third film based on Mike Mignola's terrific comics, is missing the magic of the first two; it's also extremely gory, but it has enough style and personality to make it worth a look. Directed by Neil Marshall, who made the excellent horror movie The Descent, this take on Hellboy feels a lot like a horror movie, too, with extremely liberal gore (most of it clearly computer-generated), several terrifying monsters, and plenty of senseless death. Of course, the original comics are also horror-based, but while their tone is somewhat wry and deadpan, Marshall's movie feels a little too busy.
Likewise, star Harbour (Stranger Things) has some big shoes to fill -- taking over from Ron Perlman, who played the big red demon in Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army -- and he doesn't quite make it. His performance is a bit too big, with lots of anguish and shock; the beloved character is usually portrayed, to wonderful deadpan comic effect, as mostly perturbed and grumpy. And while Jovovich makes a great Blood Queen, the character doesn't have much to do other than make threatening speeches. But McShane and Lane work well, and the characters themselves are already pretty likable. And Marshall manages a few fight scenes that are beautifully choreographed and thrilling. All in all, it's nice to have Hellboy back, even with diminished returns.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What makes it feel sometimes like a horror movie?
How does the movie compare to the other two Hellboy movies? To the comic books or animated cartoons?
Hellboy realizes that he can choose his own fate, rather than letting a prophecy tell him what to do. How can that lesson apply to real life?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.