Hellboy - 2019
Director(s): Neil Marshall
Writer(s): Andrew Cosby (screenplay) / Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy)
Cinematography by: Lorenzo Senatore
Editor(s): Martin Bernfeld
Cast: Milla Jovovich, David Harbour, Ian McShane, Sophie Okonedo, Alistair Petrie, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, and Stephen Graham
I will put my cards on the table up front and say that I am a huge fan of del Toro's Hellboy. So when this reboot was announced, after knowing that del Toro tried for years to get his third installment greenlit, I was a little annoyed by it and more than skeptical. However, knowing the rich source material, and the countless storylines they could explore, I let go of my initial feelings and tried to accept this reboot (even took my wife for a second opinion since she has zero connections to the originals). Walking out, I am perplexed that they said no to del Toro's ideas and yes to this ungodly mess (wife agrees). Let's talk about it.
Quick note: I should've known better. Look at the poster - epic, bold, and colorful designed. It grabs your attention, and then you read "Legendary AF." AF...
The story follows Hellboy (Harbour), as he is sent on a mission by his father, Professor Broom (McShane). During the mission, he uncovers that many forces are out to kill him because he is destined to bring the end of the world. One witch though, Nimue The Blood Queen (Jovovich), does not want to kill him, instead, use him to fulfill both their destinies and bring the entire human race to an end. It is up to Hellboy and his friends, to stop The Blood Queen before it is too late.
This film is a tonal mess as it tries to appease everyone instead of picking a lane and sticking to it. There are ways to have a story that blends horror, comedy, and action within a single runtime and still feel as if the film had a singular goal in mind. Hellboy 2019 jumps from tone to tone in a way that will give you whiplash for trying to keep up with its shifts. It also doesn't help that it has an intrusive and abrasive score that is just as confused as the audience regarding what the story is trying to be. The story itself is straightforward, to a certain extent, bad guy wants to end the world - good guy stops the end of the world. However, they jam pack multiple "origin stories" and forced world building that falls flat, so by the time the climax comes around you roll your eyes at the reveal of who/what Hellboy is destined to be - not because it is not part of his background in the comics, but for its poor execution.
They do not drive home the internal conflict of the character, the conflicting dual destinies of being a king for Hell and Earth. That everything that encompasses Hellboy is a contradiction and how heavy it is on the character to know that you continuously have two path to walk on and must make a right decision with a quip and a big gun in your hand.
Quick note: a big "selling" point of this reboot is its R rating (del Toro's got a PG-13), and it tries way too hard to justify its rating. To the point that within the first words of narration they drop an F-bomb to rip that band aid for no reason quickly.
The action wasn't horrible, but it did rely on a lot of quick edits, making me feel I was watching a Taken spinoff. During one sequence I lost count at 75 edits. The practical effects were hit or miss. When they hit (Baba Yaga) they were visually akin to what del Toro created, and when they missed (Hellboy's face) they just made for a distraction that pulled you out of the experience. Same goes for the CGI. The acting was ok, with Harbour doing his best to capture the spirit of the character and create some distance between him and Perlman, but the makeup betrays him. There is a lot of "jokes" added in post via voiceover that became distracting, and Harbour's were the most egregious (not his fault).
Hellboy is a frustrating two-hour long experience. Every shift in tone, loud and obnoxious song, throw-away voice over "joke." and eyesore CGI/practical effect will make you want to ask; why? Sure, there are kernels of moments within the runtime, and few good jokes delivered by the truly professional Harbour, but there are few and far between to justify this reboot of a series that needed the del Toro's touch to work.
Hellboy (2019) is a Dumpster Fire.
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