Hellboy Movie Review
It seemed like a surefire bet: reboot a franchise based on an obscure comic book character made popular by an Oscar-winning director, one that was not financially successful enough to last more than two movies—this time with a director who has made a grand total of one successful film (The Descent) way back in 2005 and a lot of generic CGI.
Hellboy, not to be confused with the 2004 critical hit Hellboy, directed by Guillermo del Toro—who, if anything, is a mastermind when it comes to creative creatures built with practical effects—is a shockingly dull and outrageously unnecessary movie that fails to improve upon its predecessors in any way or form, practically forcing the question of WHY to be asked.
Much of it isn’t terrible as it is incredibly disappointing. This Hellboy rehashes elements from the first one—primarily the demon-protagonist’s backstory—while stripping away much of the originality. The rest of the characters, including the villain played by Milla Jovavich, are utterly forgettable to the point they aren’t even memorable as you’re watching them. The monsters Hellboy encounters might have looked cool had they been created with practical effects, but the so-so CGI essentially writes them off to the annals of wasted CGI. The plot, while packing plenty of action and a few interesting moments, quickly devolves into the “fight the evil witch who has been buried for thousands of years” tropes that have been recycled so many, many times.
As for David Harbour (Stranger Things), who takes over the red-faced hero from Ron Pearlman, he’s a victim of the film’s other failures. While Harbour doesn’t quite have the gravely growl of Pearlman nor does the mask/makeup seem to emote as much as in the del Toro movies, it’s hard to blame him for this mess. Put him in a better movie and likely no one would even blink.
Hellboy does hint at better things. The movie’s middle section is by far the best, highlighted by a scene you’d expect del Toro to put to screen—Hellboy interacts with a weird creature who eats child stew and lives in an otherworldly house that tilts back and forth as if it itself is a living thing. More creativity and uniqueness like this throughout the rest of the production would have helped establish Hellboy as something more than a director-for-hire rehash that has no real reason to exist.
This new version of Hellboy flopped, failing to earn back its production budget. After all, it was a surefire bet: a surefire disaster.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.