The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic:
on HELLBOY (2019, 120 minutes, R)
The Quick of It -
The hate that filled critics’ blogs towards the new installment of HELLBOY left enough doubt for anyone to feel the need to spend the money on a failed attempt to reboot. I, typically, dismiss these guys as most don’t give two ‘donkeys’ about the actual film. They hunt for clicks and turmoil, not offering a fair shake.
With hope in my heart, I took a seat and prepared for the unknown.
This relaunch had a new crew and cast to make this work. Director Neil Marshal (of DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT) took Andrew Cosby’s (of ‘Eureka’ and ‘Haunted’) script and ran with the project. The initial hype was real. Everyone wanted this to pull through. With David Harbour (of ‘Stranger Things’) as Hellboy and Ian McShane (of ‘Deadwood’) as Professor Broom leading the cast in name-power for the primary characters, we have a promising start. And then we have Milla Jovovich as the lovely baddie. On the surface, we all saw nothing wrong so far.
Then you had the trailer and costuming of Hellboy. The trailer was a bit mixed in its message, seemed a flat action story. There were a lot of moving parts while being simple in what was to happen. Then, Hellboy appeared more scraggly, similar to the art of Duncan Fegredo. Not a bad choice. He wasn’t the Ron Perlman style we had gotten used to, but it worked.
In the end, after sitting through this two-hour movie, I cannot defend what I saw. I was bored, was creeping up on the ‘I want to get the heck out of here’ moment, and fighting those yawns near the end. Yes, there is some grounds for enjoyment for some people. The creatures and creature-concepts were awesome. There was no half-stepping here. The one redeeming quality that I could find. We also had humor and violence in droves. But it was not enough to save the tragedy that I experienced.
The script was based on multiple stories - ‘Darkness Calls’, ‘The Wild Hunt’, ‘The Storm and the Fury’, and ‘Hellboy in Mexico’. That could be the first problem. The story was choppy and disconnected. So much to the point, I think the script was fed through a woodchipper to come up with this pile of ‘donkey’ shavings. Thanks to this, there was no flow. The placement of humor missed on certain points, feeling out of place, having no connection to the scene or just bad 80’s liners. There were so many characters introduced and forced into the plot, you start to lose why they are there… and later discover they were not even necessary.
It pains me to say the critics were right. You might find some redeeming qualities in HELLBOY, but the woodchipper did a number. Good luck.