To say that Hellboy (2019) had some huge horns to fill is a massive understatement. The original Hellboy films were lovingly directed by visionary film director Guillermo del Toro. They provided a spellbinding and humor filled take on Mike Mignola’s comic-book character leaving a lasting impression on many.
I was curious to see what director Neil Marshal who had directed some criminally underrated horror films such as The Descent, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday, Constantine and Outpost would do with it.
Lets take a look the result.
David Harbour (Stranger Things) as Hellboy for the most part is pretty good. Harbour is no Ron Pearlman, but he manages to hold his own for the most part. Although he doesn’t have the range that Pearlman brought with his humor and Harbor just seems shouty.
Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) as the Sorceress Nimue. Milla is still a fantastic actress despite the seemingly endless Resident Evil sequels she shines in Hellboy (2019).
Ian McShane (Deadwood, American Gods) as Trevor Bruttenholm Hellboy’s adopted father. McShanes gravelly voice and delivery make me wonder if he wouldn’t have made a good Hellboy himself. McShane is just one of those actors who’s delivery commands respect. Although they had to engage in a bit of plot bullshittery to explain his age and being around in ww2, unlike the late great John Hurt who played the role in Hellboy (2004).
Sasha Lane (American Honey) as Alice Monaghan. I’m not familiar with Lane’s previous work all I can tell is she puts on a horrendous British accent and doesn’t really add much to the character. Surely there was a better native English accented actress to cast?
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) as Ben Daimio. I like Daniel Dae Kim as an actor but again the faux English accent just destroyed his performance and made it seem fake. What was the problem with having him cast as an American speaker?
Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire – Al Capone) provides the voice talents of Gruagach the boar headed fairy henchman to Nimue. He is one of the enjoyable parts of the film as Hellboy’s foil for most of the story but is a bit anti-climactic at the end.
Hellboy (2019) is part reboot part rehash of some of the plot points from the prior movies. My thoughts in general are unless you can top the originals or bring something entirely new to the table don’t bother. Why they couldn’t have gone with a direct sequel I’m not sure.
There were a lot of behind the scenes politics that put a sequel to the del Toro series in development hell for nearly a decade.
The main plot points follow Hellboy: The Golden Army but without the sense of ambiguity that it had. In The Golden Army you could somewhat relate to the villain who was a freedom fighter for the magical races who were being marginalized by humans. They try to do this with Hellboy (2019) but then it boils down to “Witches evil, creatures bad”.
This film feels like several different movies smashed together. I get the feeling this is another case where the director, Neil Marshal’s film might have been more interesting but the studio notes were “we are making this more like the original movies”. So why didn’t they just develop a 3rd del Toro film?
As a result the tone is wayyyyy off, we get some of the lighthearted whimsy of the originals colliding with spectacular gore. Also the CGI effects were quite terrible in places. I’m not sure if they borrowed the guys doing CGI for the DC movies but the 2004 Hellboy film looked better…
The script was thinner than the paper it was printed on in the parts that weren’t cribbing from established plot points. A hefty peppering of “fucks” in the dialogue made sure I was completely out of fucks to give by the movies end.
Action sequences feel a bit tired and either a lack of budget or imagination let them down. Some of the violence like the language seems like it’s just to reach a quota to justify its R rating.
The fake British accents were a horror in themselves.
The Good Stuff
David Harbour, Milla Jovovich and Ian McShane do their best and you almost get a glimpse at a better movie lurking underneath.
Some of the scenes of hell on earth where the CGI isn’t letting it down and the creature designs are on point are touching on some of the effortless fantasy of del Toro.
The gore won’t be to everyone’s taste but the practical effects and no holds barred approach is one of the best aspects and make me wonder if this film was fully realized if it would have been along the lines of Sam Rami’s Evil Dead series.
Is it the flaming dumpster fire the rest of the internet is hailing it as? No, Suicide Squad and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom already exist remember.
Hellboy (2019) Lacks the imagination and whimsy of del Toro’s Hellboy (2004) and it feels bittersweet that the apocalypse Hellboy is ushering in is it’s own.
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
Lots of gore!
Dark Fantasy movies.
Action movies without a lot of plot in the way.
Skip it if you:
Have a special place in your heart for the del Toro originals.
Don’t have a strong stomach.
Don’t like reboots
In cinemas now