Director: Neil Marshall
Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church
Screenplay: Andrew Cosby
120 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language.
So when it was announced that the next Hellboy film would not be a follow-up to the tremendous first two films with Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman, I was initially upset, but I let it pass because it seemed like there was nothing that could be done about it. I got more excited about the prospect of a reboot when David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, TV’s Stranger Things) was cast as the new Hellboy and Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Tales of Halloween) would be directing. It all seemed like it was coming together rather nicely, and I even liked the vibe of the trailers. It appeared that everything was going to come out all right for this new iteration of Hellboy. Then, I saw it.
Back during the Dark Ages, the evil Blood Queen Vivian Nimue (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, Future World) unleashed a plague of death and destruction until she was stopped, dismembered, and buried by King Arthur and his knights. Now, in present day, the Baba Yaga is attempting to bring Nimue back to life. It’s up to the B.P.R.D. and its demonic agent, Hellboy, to stop Nimue once and for all. But what if Hellboy is exactly what the Blood Queen wants?
Hellboy is, at times, almost nonsensical. There’s a lot of mythology and story jammed into this movie, and just about none of it is entertaining at all. Characters do things to drive the plot without any real reason for any of it. They just do things. Things just happen. Characters provide exposition that drags on and on. What angers me the most is that the film is bad and forgettable and oh so boring. It’s disappointing because this is what we got instead of a true sequel to a good franchise. I know I don’t like to compare films to each other, but this was such a major step down from what fans wanted.
On the plus side, I liked David Harbour’s work as Hellboy. He plays him very differently than I expected, with Hellboy having an existential crisis about his place in the world, and for that part, he works quite well. His Hellboy is one struggling to find good within his inherently evil framework. It’s a sad and solitary journey. I also thought Jovovich did a good job as the Blood Queen, but her character is written so one-note that it’s hard to find anything identifiable with her villainous persona outside of I’M A VILLAIN AND I DO VILLAIN THINGS.
It’s obvious that screenwriter Andrew Cosby is most well-known for TV’s Eureka because this feels like a pilot to a series instead of a full beginning-middle-end movie. Everything in the film is a setup for what comes next. Hell, I wrote in my social media review that the post-credits scenes are better than the move that preceded them. The film ends on a note that says “Won’t the sequel be fun, right?” instead of just giving that film here. Del Toro did a great job setting up the Hellboy origin story in his films, and Marshall’s film runs through it pretty quick, so we don’t need all this setup for a better sequel we will likely not see.
Hellboy’s production was littered with rumors of behind-the-scenes problems, so it’s no surprise the film is littered with story-problems and pacing issues. I can’t believe how bored I was with this movie. I thought if there was one positive I would leave the theater with, it would at least be a fun movie. It was not a fun movie. Leave this one dead and buried and get me Guillermo del Toro.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of the anthology film Tales of Halloween, click here.