April 10th, 2019
STARRING: DAVID HARBOUR; MILLA JOVOVICH; IAN MCSHANE; SASHA LANE; DANIEL DAE KIM
DIRECTED BY: NEIL MARSHALL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Midway through Hellboy, the half devil, half man (this time played by Stranger Things star David Harbour) enters into a store, which is covering for an underground agency protecting the world from the supernatural, and on the front counter, staring us right in the face, is a Monster Energy drink. Although it is blatant product placement, the extreme caffeine laced beverage is the perfect visual metaphor for what this movie experience is. It’s an intense visual sugar rush of CGI violence, blood, gnashing teeth, and brainless action that will give you a stomach ache before the last drop. The big red guy, with shaved off horns, is back to fight monsters and an evil witch by the name of Nimue (Milla Jovovich), only this time there is very little redeeming in his journey to save the universe from an eternal hell. In fact, compared to this, hell might not be so bad.
Things begin with Hellboy (Harbour), under the tutelage of his adoptive father Professor Broom (Ian McShane), searching for a fellow agent that went missing in Tijuana, Mexico in his pursuit to find vampires. Hellboy discovers him at a Lucha Libre wrestling match and ends up fighting it out with a mutating man with bat wings and sharp fangs. That’s just the start of this films weirdness. The entire plot involves a warthog man recovering the buried head and limbs of the evil blood queen Nimue (Jovovich), putting her back together, so she can reign terror once more. That’s if she can defeat Hellboy and his team of fighters- a mind reader named Alice (Sasha Lane), and Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim)- a military man with his own set of mysterious powers, tasked to do whatever it takes to protect earth from complete annihilation.
This is the third time a Hellboy story has been told on the big screen, and the first time without director Guillermo del Toro and actor Ron Perlman behind the wheel. Although this new installment isn’t a total waste, it’s also an obscene departure from the things that the 2004 film or Hellboy II: The Golden Army had previously achieved. I know he is an auteur and Academy Award winning visionary, but this Hellboy lacks in everything that del Toro brought in style and storytelling. The screenplay from Andrew Cosby is all over the place, introducing us to various characters, never giving much backstory, and moving us around from location to location. The direction from Neil Marshall, whose previous film- The Descent, proved him worthy of making a claustrophobic horror film with nasty creatures, brings a cool mixture of practical special effects, which are only erased with crappy moments of CGI. Some moments of Hellboy will spark your interest and other scenes will have you laughing with confusion at its complete ridiculousness.
I cannot blame the actors involved for any of Hellboy‘s missed marks. Harbour, who is clearly capitalizing on his popularity, (or any negotiations that broke down for Perlman) makes for a dad-bod looking Hellboy, but also fails to create anything that is his own unique voice. It’s hard not to see, but Harbour is doing his version of Perlman doing Hellboy and that’s still not enough to wow the audience. The best performance comes from Jovovich, who is eating up the big, evil nature of her character, but also delivering way too much dialogue, and not enough misery on her enemies. She’s playing more of a Bond villain with super powers, than a witch that can kill someone with the wave of her hands.
In the end, Hellboy is a garbled mess of a film. The visuals are unappealing, the characters insignificant, and the violence too ridiculous to respect. This already feels like the 2019 version of Venom, a film that is too silly to not enjoy, but so entirely wacky that you have to criticize it. What may be the most offensive part, is how this Hellboy installment is being paraded on as the next superhero movie to have multiple sequels that follow after. Audience do not need another movie series consisting of the same things we see in the Marvel and DC films delivered every other week. This is one series that should just remain in hell.
1 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady