Film review: Hellboy

19 April 2019

By Kieran

Oh dear 2019. You aren’t doing brilliantly are you.

Hellboy is a reboot of the franchise from the mid-2000s and an adaptation of the comics of the same name. It stars Stranger Things David Harbour as the demon who fights for the US government against paranormal threats. And it’s not very good.

I’m in three minds about what I’m blaming for this movie’s not-good-ness. It’s either laziness, incompetence or studio-interference and I’m not sure which would be better. There’s a lot of talented people on board here so I’m gonna go with either the former or the latter.

If I had to sum up Hellboy, I’d say that it’s the movie equivalent of a 15-year-old boy on a date. It’s a bit awkward, it makes jokes then moves on quickly like it’s pretending it didn’t and when it’s unsure it just puts on some music that it likes. It’s not really comfortable with what it is and tries to offset that with unconvincing irony. Years have passed since I was a 15-year-old boy on a date but this brought me right back to that.

A big factor in why this film was so weird was because of the editing. Everything is so rushed that nothing has time to land (the jokes in particular). They tell the story in a very weird order that means we get some dumps of exposition multiple times, sometimes within minutes of one another. Some 10-minute-segments might be flashback after flashback while some segments will have none at all. Some segments spend ages on setting up new locations and travel while others just do it in a montage. This is why I’m inclined to believe there was some interference at some stage because it feels like some bits of the movie were edited by someone who snuck in while the director was asleep.

Something I did enjoy was the English setting. The reason I enjoyed this is that it meant the demons had regional accents. And a giant pig-monster who speaks in an aggressively scouse drawl is undeniably entertaining.

David Harbour is mostly fine as Hellboy himself though I prefer Ron Perlman in the role. Ian McShane is a blast as per usual. Milla Jovovich, it turns out, can be fun as long as she’s not in a Resident Evil sequel. The film shafts Sasha Lane’s Alice Monaghan the worse. Or as I call her, Cockney McClearly-American. Her London accent is atrocious and the script which burdens her with all the ‘quids’, ‘geezers’ and ‘muppets’ this side of Del Boy’s Jellied-Eel store doesn’t help.

In fact, that’s what the movie should have been called. Hellboy and Del Boy.

Look, it’s not as bad as the Rotten Tomatoes score would have you believe but I couldn’t honestly call it good. Just watch the Guillermo del Toro version from 2004 for a film that feels like one person made it.

Oh, and like seemingly every movie in 2019, the CGI ranges from fine to an eyesore. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thanos turns up in Avengers: Endgame and it’s just Josh Brolin painted purple.

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