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A new Hellboy reboot has kicked up some talk about just how the new R-rated, Mike Mingola-approved approach will be different from the Guillermo del Toro duology of films. So far, there's been some good feedback from both the film's director, Neil Marshall, as well as the new face of Hellboy himself, David Harbour. But in particular, Marshall recently swore that his film's storytelling would hew closer to a more practical approach to its effects, courtesy of the following statement:
It's definitely going to be as practical as we can possibly make it. I love to do stuff in camera whenever I possibly can, and use CG as the amazing tool that it is, to enhance or expand upon the world, but not to use it to replace reality, when you can do it real.
Now the debate between practical and CGI has raged on basically since CG started to slowly make its way into mainstream film-making practices. Also, there's no denying that both halves of the effects spectrum were well represented in the Guillermo del Toro films, as tons of practical creature effects mingled with more complicated digital beasties. Having said this, Neil Marshall's recent remark about Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen being a more practical beast does tend to hint at the scope of the project.
It feels like we're being promised a more character-centric, and possibly more intimate, film than Hellboy or Hellboy II: The Golden Army were. Both previous films were big ticket blockbusters that definitely traded on spectacle, and they each had at least one gigantic creation that needed to be entirely digital, due to their grand size being impractical to approach through practical means. So if Marshall is promising more a physical component to the film's effects, there's a good chance that he'll be scaling things down to a more manageable level that only calls for the lightest of CGI touches.
So while this sounds like an element that distances the new Hellboy reboot from its predecessors, Neil Marshall's discussion on the Post Mortem with Mick Garris podcast does draw one parallel between the new and old Hellboy film projects: the effects are tied directly into the story's requirements. This isn't always the case, but since Guillermo del Toro made a more fairytale-like version of Hellboy, the fanciful CGI creatures mixing with practical effects definitely worked to create that lush and visually stunning world. But with Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, a more "visceral" approach will help serve the horror movie ambitions that this new, more mature film is trying to set out for.
It's a natural law that the monsters that look more realistic tend to scare us the most. So Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen continues to maintain its promises to scare the audience with maximum effect, while retelling the story of a demon who has the future of the world in his hands. The film has no definitive release date, but is penciled in for a production start date to take place at some point in September, so we'll be looking forward to reporting on further developments once they occur.