In 2004, visionary director Guillermo del Toro introduced movie audiences to the character Hellboy from Mike Magnolia’s comic of the same name. While the film was not a major success, it was able to spawn a sequel four years later, which was also not as successful as the studio wanted, leaving Del Toro’s trilogy incomplete.
Eleven years later, the left-handed half-demon returns to the big screen with a brand new cast and creative team.
“Hellboy” is a fantasy-action film directed by Neil Marshal, the man behind the cult-horror movie, “The Descent” and episodes for a bunch of television shows, most notably the season 2 “Game of Thrones” episode, “Blackwater.” The film stars David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Sasha Lang, Daniel Dae Kim and Ian McShane. The movie tells the story of Hellboy, a half-demon who fights other monsters for the government and who must now stop an army of giants from resurrecting an evil sorceress to take over the world.
While an R-rated fantasy action film from a great genre director and a decent cast seems like it would be a good time, never underestimate the power of bad writing and editing. This movie is a mess.
When the film began and the narrator said the F-word not even a minute into the film, I thought to myself, “yeah the studio really wanted an R-rating to show how much more edgy they are compared to those PG-13 Hellboy films.” The beginning was also when I realized that the film was probably re-written while in the editing process. The opening exposition felt like it was supposed to be a full 10-minute scene that they cut down and just added some awkward narration on top of.
The film’s title character is then introduced in a fight scene that never connects to the overall plot of the film. There were main characters that didn’t even show up until 45 minutes into the film. One character was introduced in a scene that plays like the audience is already supposed to know who they are only to have their origins explained to the audience later in the film, after the audience already gets the basic idea of who they are. Another character appears in a scene as if we’re supposed to know who they are, and we never see them again for the rest of the movie. Don’t get me started on the fact that the film had five fake-out endings.
When it comes to the character of Hellboy himself, I felt that David Harbour did fine in the role, and I can’t say that I missed Ron Perlman for the most part. But the problem I had with the character was that Harbour wasn’t given anything interesting to work with. When you see a Hellboy movie you expect him to just say some quips and shoot some monsters. He isn’t very witty in the film, and the character wasn’t that much fun to watch. I really missed Abe and Liz from the original films because the dynamic they created with Hellboy was a lot more interesting than his dynamic with Alice and Ben. Hellboy, Abe and Liz were all characters that had known each other for years and clearly cared about each other. Hellboy, Alice and Ben have very clearly only known each other for a couple of hours.
Milla Jovovich as the evil sorceress was as basic and uninteresting as you’d think Milla Jovovich playing an evil sorceress would be. It made the film feel less like a reboot of Hellboy and more like a spinoff of “Underworld,” “Resident Evil” or “I, Frankenstein.”
This isn’t to say that there wasn’t anything I liked about the movie. There were a few cool action scenes where they took advantage of the R-rating, and I actually ended up enjoying the final scene that set up a better sequel we’re probably never going to see.