You know, at first thought, it’s like, ‘how do you get better than the Guillermo del Toro Hellboy films? And then you think, ‘oh, yeah, you don’t’.
When I first head about this reboot, I was a little wary. It seemed too soon. I mean, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy came out in 2004, and the sequel in 2008. But then I heard they were going to go in a more horror direction, and director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) was going to do it, and creator Mike Mignola was going to help write it, along with Andrew Cosby, who created and wrote much of the show Eureka, which I liked. That all sounded like positive, hope-giving, stuff.
But sometimes, a lot of positive parts don’t make up a great whole.
In case you need a refresher on the premise, Hellboy is based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
First off, I’d say that David Harbour laying Hellboy is great. He has the character down solid. I liked him. Maybe not as good as Ron Pearlman in the del Toro films, but still solid. But that’s close to about it, though. Most of the other actors seem either miscast, or forced to do a fake British accent that sounds all too fake.
Ian McShane (Deadwood, American Gods) plays Professor Broom, Hellboy’s sort of adoptive father. I couldn’t get past the fact that he just seemed like he was playing Al Swearingen from Deadwood. I kept expecting him to say ‘cocksucker’ all the time. He didn’t seem all that developed as a character. Like many of the characters in this, except Hellboy himself.
Then there’s Daniel Dae Kim – who I like a lot – doing a mediocre English accent as Major Ben Daimo. Same goes for Sasha Lane, who; plays Alice Monaghan. And again, despite usually liking Milla Jovovich, she plays the evil Blood Queen Nimue (pronounced “Nim-you-way”) as if she was instructed to be as cheesey as possible, and was given the MOST ridiculous, banal dialogue ever. She does look amazing, though.
On top of that, there is material in this film that is sourced from at LEAST six or seven different separate story lines from the Hellboy comics. There is a LOT going on here. Too much. From Mexican wrestling, to King Arthur and Excaliber, to ancient evil witches, to origin story; if they’re planning to make this a franchise, maybe they should have saved some of the material for later Hellboy films.
The general tone of the film is ok, but the horror elements seem to really stand out – a LOT. And some of it is REALLY gruesome; human bodies being torn apart, LOTS of CG blood. In fact, I think it’s ALL CG. I don’t remember there being any practical blood at all. If there was, it was so little or so over-powered by the use of CG that it wasn’t noticeable. And that CG blood is REALLY noticeable. It just doesn’t look right.
And the big third act? You’ve seen the trailer for Hellboy, right? Where there are giant creatures walking around? Yeah, there isn’t much dramatic build-up to that. Suddenly it just happens. And then there’s a LOT of gore. The pacing and the tone here felt…off. It’s like they didn’t give this part of the film the atmosphere and necessary importance it deserved. It felt sort of like…fast food. It needed more drama.
It wasn’t all bad, mind you. There is still some general things that are ok. There is a part involving Baba Yaga that is pretty inspired and creepy. But overall, I didn’t really care for this reboot. I felt there were too many things wrong. I suppose if you were on an airplane this MIGHT be worth a watch. But two kiitenhands here. It was a disappointment.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, betting the suits wished they had pushed to have Guillermo del Toro and Ron Pearlman make a third Hellboy movie instead of this.