Director: Neil Marshall
Writers: Andrew Cosby and Mike Mignola
Stars: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Ian McShane
Lets get one thing out of the way right here at the top: Neil Marshall’s reboot of Hellboy is not the worst comic book movie of all time as many sensationalized headlines described it upon its initial release. It’s not very good either, but it’s far from the worst. There are even precious Marvel movies that I didn’t enjoy as much as this childish, silly slice of blood, guts and one-liners.
The problem with Hellboy isn’t its stars. David Harbour is a fine stand-in for Ron Perlman who made the role his own in the two Guillermo Del Toro films. Milla Jovovich and the other supporting actors all seem to be trying to have fun and make an entertaining movie.
Neil Marshall, who directed the amazing The Descent, knows how to stage some fun, interesting set pieces and some inventive gore (if you’re into that sort of thing like I am). So I guess it’s gotta come down to a screenplay that gives most of the characters very little to do, so few Hellboy one-liners that you can count them on one hand, and a generally nonsense plot that’s equally as hard to follow as it is simple.
An annoying metal score (from the usually reliable Benjamin Wallfisch) and some truly dreadful CGI definitely don’t add to the experience. The CGI especially deserves a mention because of how shockingly bad it is at times. It’s a shame too, because when it works, it works.
There’s flashes of what Hellboy could have been throughout the film. Hellboy’s encounter with the famed Baba Yaga witch-like creature feels like the best of Guillermo Del Toro’s work, and some of the gory action really has some fun energy to it. Heads roll and blood flows in gleeful amounts which give the film at least some solid moments for the target audience (mostly gore hounds). There’s a few solid one-liners too (something the Hellboy character is known for), but again, they’re far and few between.
I feel like I’m being too easy on Hellboy, but at the same time I feel like the rest of the critic world has been too hard on it. Like I said at the beginning, it’s far from great. I don’t think I’d even call it good. But I’ve seen far worse movies, and if you’re a fan of gore and creatures, you’re probably going to at least like a few moments of this new Hellboy… If only there were more of those moments.