Hollywood is still fascinated by the idea of reboots. Taking older cinematic properties and reshaping them for a new audience remains the go-to trending fashion for many studios out there, who are banking on the concept of bringing something “new and different”. This idea has definitely worked in the past, but (more often than not) it backfires, the notion of remakes proving no more than a stale gesture from Tinseltown. A perfect example of this comes in the form of 2019’s Hellboy, which seeks to reimagine the iconic comic book character with a bloodier light than that of the two previous films (2004’s Hellboy and 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army) from visionary director Guillermo del Toro.
Long ago in the Dark Ages, the evil Blood Queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich) was defeated, effectively ending her reign of terror upon the mortal world. In present day, Hellboy (David Harbour), a demonic, half-breed paranormal investigator who works for the organization BRPD (Bureau for Paranormal and Defense) follows a series of clues and conspiracies that hint at the resurrection of the sorceress. Battling monsters, confronting wicked creatures and suspicious of allies, Hellboy pieces together Nimue’s endgame, which has ties to his own shadowy past.
Directed by Neil Marshall, this new iteration of Hellboy definitely seems to be more “in line” with the original comic book (thought up by Mike Mignola), dreaming up plenty of hardcore violence akin to its source material. There’s also a plethora of fantasy nuances and mythological references that the feature plays around with (more so than the previous two movies); Marshall’s cinematic playground of beasts and monsters is imaginative enough make any fantasy boy intrigued by the picture’s premise.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film falters greatly and ends up as a disappointing mess, lifeless and uninteresting from start to finish. There’s a classic hero’s journey in the feature, but Marshall’s direction is completely haphazard, and weighed down (even further) by a very thinly sketched narrative. It’s almost like the movie is in love with its own story, driving home certain points in a way that is confusing, unnecessary, or even just plain bad. In addition, while the picture definitely has R-rated violence, the effectiveness of it all seems pretty forced (i.e. being uber-violent just for the sake of being uber-violent), which renders a lot of the film’s gory sequences utterly redundant. It also doesn’t help that most of the visual effect shots are iffy at best. Plus, the constant barrage of rock music (with “devil” or “hell” within the title and/or lyrics) overstays its welcome.
Stranger Things actor David Harbour steps into the boots of the titular character, which was previously played by Ron Perlman in del Toro’s movies. To be honest, Harbour actually does a decent job, but he seems to be restricted in making the character his own – it’s as if he’s trying to do an impression of Perlman’s portrayal and not craft a new one. Actress Mila Jovovich seems to be having a good time as Nimue, hamming it up with her camp dialogue and performance. There’s a sense of fun in her performance, but it’s more cartoonish baddie. All the other supporting cast, including Sasha Lane, Ian McShane and Daniel Dae Kim, are completely wasted on a project like this. Even their acting talents can’t elevate the one-dimensional characters, with most being forgetful or just downright dull. There are several other players in the feature, but they too come off as pointless stock caricatures.
In the end, Hellboy is just another bland, dull and disappointing Hollywood remake that carries little charm and brings very little excitement to its cinematic proceedings. The film is supposed to be the starting point for new franchise for “Big Red” and his supernatural bouts with primordial monsters and demonic creatures, but the promise seems DOA. To put it simply, Hellboy is “Hella-bad”.
Hellboy is released nationwide on 11th April 2019.
Watch the trailer for Hellboy here: