Directed By: Neil Marshall
Written By: Christopher Golden, Andrew Cosby, Mike Mignola
I had never heard of Hellboy before seeing the 2004 Guillermo Del Toro film. I immediately fell in love with the character. That movie (and it’s 2008 sequel) was so much fun. I was nervous when I heard that a reboot was in the works, especially when words like “edgier” and “darker” started getting tossed around. I was willing to give it a chance though and boy did I pay a steep price for that.
Normally in this paragraph I would recap the plot. Not gonna happen this time because I have no idea what the hell was going on. There was so much plot. It started simple enough. There is an evil witch and Hellboy must kill her. That’s easy but it gets buried under layer and layer of nonsense and it’s crowded with roughly 1,000 characters and we get the backstory for each and every one of them. There came a point that I was audibly groaning every time a new character came on screen because I knew it was going to derail us from the central plot (the killing of the witch) for at least another 20 minutes. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to laugh at something that happens during the climax of the film but it is so completely ridiculous when it happens that I couldn’t help it. Luckily I had time to recover while three different characters gave long speeches that we had already heard at least once before. Three people (including Hellboy creator Mike Mignola) worked on this screenplay and it still feels like a first draft, the draft they should have tossed in the fire.
Not only is there way too much happening in this story, it’s buried under way too much CGI and most of it looks terrible. I don’t normally notice bad CGI in movies but there are shots in this film that would have looked laughable ten years ago. That’s just inexcusable. When you decide to make a movie that is this heavy on CGI effects, you also need to make the decision to spend the money and make sure those effects look as good as possible. These looked like something from a film student’s final project (no offense to any student filmmakers).
Was there anything worth seeing in this film? Yes, sort of. He’s not Ron Pearlman, and that is not his fault, but David Harbour did a good job of playing the title character. It was different than the portrayal in the Del Toro films but was also vaguely familiar. His performance was a welcome departure. The other thing worth seeing is Ian McShane which should go without saying at this point. Whatever he does is worth watching. He plays Hellboy’s father in this film and does a great job bringing that character to life. He manages to give the professor more depth than the Del Toro film did.
My worst fears were realized by this reboot. I don’t know if this was just a bad idea from the start or if this movie suffered from too many cooks in the kitchen or how it came to this but the end result is terrible. It seems like there was way too much talent involved in this project for it to turn out this way. Thank God I have the Del Toro films to go back to because I will not be revisiting this anytime soon.