Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer
I should just jump right out and say that “Hellboy” is an absolute cinematic travesty that no one who truly values film, art or good things should support.
It’s an incoherent, narrative mess that shows nothing but contempt for its audience, while at the same time begging on its hands and knees for their hard earned dollars.
“Hellboy” isn’t just a bad movie, its an omen. An omen that if by the slimmest of chances is financially successful, could signal doom for the future of franchise filmmaking.
But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s talk about why “Hellboy” sucks, and how it fails to be a movie. Instead, it’s a two hour, gory, nightmarish fever dream with no escape.
A decade after Guillermo del Toro’s last “Hellboy” film, “Stranger Things’” David Harbour takes the reins from Ron Perlman as the titular demon-with-a-heart-of-gold, as he hunts down the evil Blood Queen, Nimue, in an attempt to stop her from bringing forth the apocalypse. Alongside Hellboy is Alice Monaghan, played by Sasha Lane — of “American Honey” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” — and Ben Daimio, played by Daniel Dae Kim.
“Hellboy” begins with a black-and-white flashback, that shows us Nimue — played by Milla Jovovich of “Resident Evil” — as she is betrayed by members of her coven and dismembered, with her body parts being spread across the world.
I’m not someone who is usually squeamish during horror movies or scenes with extreme violence, but when it’s just distasteful or meaningless it really gets on my nerves.
This leads me to one of my biggest problems with “Hellboy,” which is the insistence on pushing its R-rating down your throat. Both of del Toro’s films were rated PG-13, yet felt more violent and bold than this year’s reboot.
I won’t start comparing this film to del Toro’s just yet, because that would just lead us down a rabbit hole that we’d never get out of. Just know this: “Hellboy” doesn’t even come close to reaching the quality of his.
You can’t help but feel as if this is a film that was utterly decimated in post-production. It feels completely disjointed, with certain characters appearing and disappearing with no rhyme or reason. Scenes have no beginning or end, with ugly transitions cutting dialogue and action scenes to death. It makes it difficult to even know what’s happening.
2019’s “Hellboy” is a narrative catastrophe and a tonal mess. Its jokes fall embarrassingly flat, and dialogue that’s meant to be taken seriously gets laughs. The film never establishes a consistent mood for the audience to grapple onto.
Positives are few and far between, but there are a few fun scenes here and there that are just so absurd you can just lose yourself for a moment or two. David Harbour tries his best to make the role his own, but with a script that doesn’t do him any favors, the job of following Ron Perlman is a task no actor would envy.
The thing that annoys me the most is that it’s not like this film never had a chance at being good, there are talented people behind the camera as well as in front of it.
Neil Marshall is one of the most talented horror directors working today. With his passion for helming horror and ability to get great performances out of his actors shown in the 2005 modern-day classic “The Descent,” as well as crafting intricate and pulse-pounding action set-pieces in “Game of Thrones,” it’s not hard to imagine how this could’ve worked.
So why didn’t it?
From the awkward and forced ending introducing a certain fan-favorite character, to the bizarre post-credit scene, it’s painfully obvious that Lionsgate was banking on Hellboy becoming a franchise.
While del Toro’s films were massive critical hits, they struggled mightily at the box office. So naturally, they decided to take everything that made del Toro’s films good and do the complete opposite.
Devoid of any of the original’s humor, heart, creativity, charm, style and imagination, this reboot reeks of studio interference. It feels like the most generic, R-rated superhero movie imaginable. With the shoehorned pop/rock soundtrack, ugly color palette, uninspired action, and shallow characters, you can’t help but get the impression that Lionsgate wanted this movie tailored to the absolute lowest common denominator.
At times, Marshall’s creativity is able to shine through and Harbour tries his best, but this is a movie that desperately needed del Toro’s unique and uncompromising creative vision. Or, to just not be made at all.
“Hellboy” panders, prods and flops on every level imaginable. It makes the fiery apocalyptic look like paradise in comparison to spending another two hours in a theater and watching this again.