I’m a big fan of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. I read and review the trades when I can here. I really wished that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman had finished their trilogy. In fact, I enjoyed those two Hellboy movies enough that news of a reboot made me, well, not happy. Then I heard the new Hellboy would be played by Stranger Things‘ David Harbour, and that just seemed right to me. Factor in some of the prosthetic make-up he wore for various promotional photos, and he really looked the part. Plus, director Neil Marshall had made some fairly cultist horror movies and directed some of the bigger episodes of Game of Thrones. This could work out just fine.
Then I saw the movie and, well, it didn’t.
To be fair, Harbour actually makes a great Hellboy, and I would probably listen to Ian McShane, cast here as Hellboy’s “father” Professor Bruttenholm, if he just read pages out of a phone book. And yes, the Hellboy make-up looks great.
But then there’s the rest of the movie.
Acting as something of an origin story, Hellboy here is investigating the return of the Blood Queen Nimue (Mila Jovovich) while clashing with the rather antagonistic allies he has that would just assume kill him as help him since all kinds of prophecies involving Hellboy end poorly for the human race. Will Hellboy stop Nimue or join forces with her?
And that’s about all I want to say about the plot. Like I said, Harbour’s fine and I don’t mind McShane phoning something in, but the rest of the movie is just dire. Stories came out about on-set clashes where the movie’s producers were blatantly undermining Marshall’s direction while he was doing it, on-the-spot rewrites, and a host of other problems. The end result has clunky pacing, action scenes that look like they came from a bad video game, inconsistent special effects, even less consistent English accents, bad performances, a ton of stuff thrown in “just because,” and an occasionally blaring soundtrack that made me think I was watching a bad music video. Sure, there are plenty of nods to Hellboy’s comic book adventures, but many of them won’t mean much to people who haven’t read said comics. Harbour and Hellboy both deserve better than this. 4 out of 10 angry pig men.
Yeah, if you really want to see some good Hellboy, try his comic book adventures or his earlier movies. Skip this one.