It has been fifteen years since Guillermo del Toro brought Mike Mignola’s comic-book series to life. Although far from perfect, the film managed to showcase del Toro’s talents as a writer and director. It featured an excellent visual style (mixing CGI with practical effects), great characters, and almost wall-to-wall action. No one could play the half-demon/half-human better than Ron Perlman, who brought so much charisma and humor underneath all the makeup. The sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, contained a bigger fantasy atmosphere. It’s a shame there wouldn’t be more adventures with the original cast.
Director Neil Marshall (The Descent) thought it would be a great idea to reboot the franchise. Sadly, even with an R-rating, meaning more gore and profanity, doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Hellboy (David Harbour), the adoptive son of Professor Trevor Broom (Ian McShane), trains to become an agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). He gets sent to England to help the Osiris Club to take down a group of giants.
After being betrayed by the secret society, he eventually joins forces with Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), who has magical abilities after being kidnapped by fairies as a baby, and a hot-headed M11 agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae-Kim), with the ability of turning into a jaguar. They learn about ancient sorceress Nimue (Milla Jovovich), whose head among other body parts were dismembered by King Arthur in 517 AD. She comes back to wreak havoc on humanity, as if we have never seen it done to death already (*ahem* The Mummy (2017)).
Everything about Hellboy feels rushed to the point of feeling like a trailer to a movie that never happened. Its pacing goes all over the place. Throughout this trainwreck, we see the characters go from one location to the next; flashing back or giving too much exposition. Hell, even the action sequences are nauseating to watch. The CGI looks like something out of a video game for the XBOX. This movie contains the most blood I’ve ever seen in a comic-book movie.
Fresh from playing Officer Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, David Harbour is not a bad choice to play Hellboy. He does have the physique and attitude to play someone as tough as the red Nazi demon. Unfortunately, his portrayal comes off as immature and whiny; making terrible jokes and shouting even worse one-liners (“Quit while you’re a head,” he says to a dismembered head after letting it go). Not only sucking out the wit and charm that made Perlman’s version so good, there is also no chemistry between him and his co-stars. McShane’s Professor Broom is so over-the-top that it’s hard not to laugh whenever he appears on the screen (he’s better off training John Wick). Even in limbs, Jovovich still comes off as dull playing a whitewashed character. The weirdest performance of all is Thomas Haden Church as a vigilante who kills his victims and branding them with his lobster-claw symbol.
The new Hellboy is about as entertaining as a two-hour car accident. There is no fun to be had with it whatsoever. Everything about it is incomprehensible and obnoxious to the point of making everyone sick to their stomach and getting a headache. It’s charmless, humorless, lifeless, and cringe-worthy. Not only is it one of the worst movies of the year, it’s one of the worst comic-book movies I’ve ever seen. Of course, a movie like this will end on a cliffhanger; leaving room for a sequel. It’s blockbuster hell.