Hellboy is the 3rd live-action Hellboy movie to hit theatres and the 1st in this newly rebooted franchise. No more Guillermo del Toro or Ron Perlman this time around, instead we have Neil Marshall behind the camera and David Harbour of Stranger Things taking the mantle of Hellboy. With a new cast and crew, an R rating, and a new story, can this Hellboy surpass the previous fan favorite del Toro movies or will it fail to please audiences?
I don’t think it’s possible to sum up this movie in a single review. Hellboy is so insane, in both a good way and a wrong way. It’s best not to put much thought into this movie because as soon as you do, the whole film falls apart. The plot is so incoherent and scrambled that it hurts my brain trying to recover and put together some sort of story Hellboy was trying to tell. There’s a blood witch trying to summon demons and monsters to destroy the world, secret societies are trying to assassinate Hellboy, King Arthur and Excalibur are in here, there’s a pig man that looks like Bebop, all of this and still a bunch of side characters get introduced with their storylines throughout the whole movie until the very end of the film. It is a mess. The beginning of the movie started decently well. The introduction of the story was fascinating and got my attention, but then they introduce another story…. and then another one and then another side plot and then another new character. There is so much going on in this movie that I don’t know what this movie is trying to tell me. Hellboy is just a little over two hours, but it feels closer to three. With all this going on, Hellboy feels bogged down, most of the storylines introduced throughout the whole movie never are concluded, but instead, a new storyline is presented in its place. It makes the film feel like it’s in the first act the whole movie, so even though lots of things are going on, it leaves you with a sense of, “okay, let’s get this story going.”
The new cast all do a reasonably good job in their respective roles. David Harbour is quite fun as the cranky, grumpy demon Hellboy. Ian McShane’s chemistry with David Harbour in this father/son dynamic worked for me. Milla Jovovich is a formidable villain as The Blood Queen. It’s a “comic bookish” performance. Over the top, hammy kind of role.
The editing of Hellboy I think has a lot to do with the structural story issues I had previously mentioned. I’d equate this films editing to something like Suicide Squad, really messy and jumbled. The editing of this film also had a significant effect on the comedy and the timing of some of the funnier lines. The comedic lines are just timed weirdly. I don’t know if they don’t give the line enough time to breathe for a second or if it’s just oddly placed into a conversation, I don’t know, it’s just off.
I said Hellboy was insane in both a wrong way (being the story’s incoherent plot), and in a good way. Hellboy is balls to wall violent, graphic and oh so bloody. The action scenes are easily the best part of Hellboy and they are helmed quite excellently. The best action scene is the very end of the movie, like the last 5 minutes, and the fight Hellboy has with a few giants. Sure the CG is a little questionable in certain parts, but the practical effects are great, and when the CG works, it works. Hellboy takes full advantage of its R rating. So much blood that I don’t think a human body can actually hold, graphic shots of creatures and people being killed and torn to pieces… it’s entertaining if you’re into that kind of thing.
Hellboy is not as bad as some critics are making it out to be. No this is not the worst movie of the year, but it’s not all that good either. The action is fun and ultra-violent, but the story is a complete mess and makes little to no sense at all. I can’t even remember a majority of what happened in this movie. I don’t recommend Hellboy. If you like ultra-violence and R rated action, you might like parts of this movie as I did, but it’s still not worth it in my opinion. Rent it when it comes out on digital. I can, however, see this movie becoming a bit of a guilty pleasure movie for some people, kind of like the Resident Evil franchise. So if you’re into that, maybe give this a try and see for yourself. If not, don’t bother with Hellboy.