REVIEW: Hellboy (Spoiler Free)

When you see Guillermo del Toro’s face, I hope it gives you hell. When you walk Ron Perlman’s way, I hope it gives you hell.

Upon the return of an ancient sorceress, the paranormal investigator, Hellboy, finds himself torn between his human upbringings and the apocalyptic prophecy bound to his being.

Ladies and gentlemen, the punching bag of 2019: Hellboy. Suffering from a troubled production and the weight of Guillermo del Toro’s early 2000s classics, 2019’s Hellboy was doomed to suffer the fiery depths of hell on Earth before even reaching cinemas. An apocalyptic cinematic event of its own accord, the new Hellboy had a lot of drama on its plate from day one with, what seemed to be, no faith placed into its development from start to finish. Currently being panned by critics globally and shunned by fans of the character, it would seem like Hellboy had no hope in hell to gain any success during its time in the spotlight… but, I don’t know… I didn’t hate it…

Far from a good movie but not exactly a terrible one, Hellboy reminded me most of 2018’s The Predator: a product made purely for money by a heavily interfering studio that tricked its audience into thinking the movie was good in the first half an hour before descending into complete and incompetent insanity. I saw Hellboy probably a week ago now and I have struggled to write a review for it, purely because, there’s nothing interesting to talk about. Not good enough to rave about and not terrible enough to moan about, Hellboy was just one of the most underwhelming, rather boring experiences I have had at the cinema recently.

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(Mark Rogers/ Lionsgate 2019)

Lacking any of the style or creativity of del Toro’s original vision, I realise Hellboy was meant to be a reinterpretation, but being as though it followed on after the vision of an Academy Award winning director, the reboot should have certainly been packing at least something up its sleeve to make it standout. Part of me believes that Hellboy attempted to gain originality and a certain sleeve of separation from the first two films by leaning deeper into the comics and using them as a stronger basis to story-tell and world-build… but none of that really came to fruition. The director behind Hellboy, Neil Marshall, is regarded as a rather solid filmmaker, and yet, despite this and his obvious passion for the source material, 2019’s Hellboy felt butchered and detached from any true attempt to make good with its nuance staples. At the end of the day, everything about Hellboy felt cliched and when it wasn’t, the movie just felt like a continuous snowball effect of messy, inconsistent events. I’ll tell ya, this movie was boring enough to make you fall asleep at times.

The only thing I really liked about Hellboy was maybe its initial twenty to thirty minutes and the performance of David Harbour as the titular demon, Hellboy. Harbour proved in Hellboy that he is genuinely one of the most likeable presences on the big screen, despite the mess and destruction swarming around him constantly. The make-up and costuming for Hellboy was also, quite frankly, really good as I would be happy to say if Harbour’s well-designed Hellboy was in any other movie, I would honestly give that movie a pass… but instead he’s in this movie and I cannot, consciously, give 2019’s Hellboy a pass.

Vaguely, 2019’s Hellboy managed to harness some workable horror elements. There were some genuinely freaky sequences in the film, but a lot of them were undercut but either some ridiculously horrible visual effects or extremely over-the-top blood and gore. Usually I don’t have a problem with a film using such gory behaviour, but, for the most half, that goriness works because it means something to the plot, character and themes or the guy directing it is Quentin Tarantino. Hellboy utilised an abundance of blood and guts which played no effect to the film’s narrative whatsoever and, also – surprise, surprise – Tarantino did not make this film. Honestly, the doomsday-like finale sequence in Hellboy kind of reminded me of a slightly bigger budget Uwe Boll movie with its ugly visuals and overuse of blood, blood, blood and more blood. And of course, the CGI didn’t help. Never mind some terribly designed monsters, everything just appeared visually unappealing.

Yet, for some reason, I wasn’t completely tuned out of 2019’s Hellboy. The movie wasn’t good, but it held my attention every now and then. Maybe it was just because of Harbour that I was left mildly intrigued, but I know for a fact it definitely was not because of the supporting cast. Even though Milla Jovavich and Ian McShane weren’t too bad, their screen time was visibly reduced to make room for two awful performances from Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae Kim – both supporting some utter sh*t British accents. The attempts Hellboy made to make Lane’s and Kim’s characters that little bit more interesting, just came off as overly dumb and, sadly, pulled back the covers on the original Hellboy mythos as rather silly. Little known fact: you should never make the original mythology seem silly, unless its in a meta way… and there was nothing meta about Hellboy.

Look… I didn’t hate Hellboy and honestly I couldn’t care less if people liked it or loathed it. This was just one of the movies that had a brief moment in the sun and will, without any notice, fade away with a click of the fingers (no, not big purple fingers… big red fingers). There were moments I didn’t mind in Hellboy, like a certain giant brawl, but even moments like those were completely ruined by at least two juxtaposing elements – in the giant’s case it was visual effects and soundtrack. Truly, I am sorry to here that Hellboy had a lot of drama behind the scenes (don’t ask me what, I have just heard some troubling stories) but, the saddest part is that this could of have been special. Harbour was really good as Hellboy and there were times in Marshall’s rough vision that I thought “yeah, this could work”… but instead, I’m sitting here unloading reasons why I couldn’t care less if nobody ever speaks about this flick again.

Hellboy 2019 wasn’t crap – it was just exhausting. I wouldn’t condemn this wreck to hell, but I would recommend it go to some counselling sessions and receive a good dose of vitamin church.

Hellboy, sadly, belongs in the… KINGDOM OF THE CRIMINALLY DULL…

 

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