MovieBob Reviews Hellboy

first_img MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Okay, to get it out of the way: Yes, I am on the side that feels Guillermo del Toro’s two Hellboy movies were highly underappreciated in their day, and that the fact we never got a third one (and thus he never got to finish up the story arc he was telling therein) is a great loss for popular culture and modern film. But it wasn’t caused — at least not directly or with malice — by the people making or starring in this reboot, so it’s unfair to hold the absence of Hellboy 3 in our lives “against” David Harbour, director Neil Marshall etc., or to judge the reboot more harshly for simply existing in its place. This new Hellboy isn’t a bad film because it’s not a continuation of the previous Hellboy… it sucks entirely on its own merits.Playing out like it was very much intended (at least at some point) to be a sort-of psuedo-sequel to the previous films and then awkwardly rewritten into a reboot, the new Hellboy is less a “film” than a pile of producer’s notes, mandatory trailer-moments and “stuff we think will pop in a comic-con sizzle reel” mashed together into something like a story; ostensibly culled from fragments of Mike Mignola’s original Hellboy comics that hew marginally closer to the edgy tone of their inspiration than Del Toro’s penchant for gothic fairytale whimsy but lack the sweeping imagination or narrative skill of either previous creator. It opens in-media-res, seemingly expecting that the superhero/supernatural/horror/alt-history/scifi/pulp-adventure mashup subgenre is now mainstream enough that Hellboy’s basic setup doesn’t require a formal origin story… but then spends the rest of its runtime cramming every other scene with tedious exposition lying out the origin story of other every minor character, scrap of world-building and gratuitous fanservice shout-out to other Mike Mignola comic character that wanders into frame until it starts to feel like a version of Buckaroo Banzai that isn’t joking about how absurd pulp continuity can be.In the story proper, Hellboy (a demon from Hell conjured to Earth as a child and *probably* also some version of The Beast and/or antichrist but raised to be a good-guy beer-drinking wisecracking monster-fighter for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) is dispatched to the UK to help thwart a shitty version of the storyline from The Kid Who Would Be King from earlier this year: Milla Jovovich’s ancient medieval “Blood Queen,” once sealed away by King Arthur himself, is about to be resurrected and unleash a monster-plague on humanity, so Hellboy has to team up with a young psychic with whom he has history and a boring guy who hates monsters but also has to keep taking weird medicine so guess where that’s going. And yes, he’s also grappling with whether or not he’s fighting on the wrong side because he himself is also technically a monster and also whether or not he’s destined to eventually become The Beast and unleash the end of the world no matter what he does and several other plot beats, character-arcs and entire scenes that anyone who’ll bother trying to watch this will have already seen done better in the previous movies. But now they can drop F-bombs and do mildly-bloody gore FX that are *maybe* a tiny bit more extreme than an average episode of The Walking Dead so… worth it, apparently?Even if that sounds straightforward enough, getting there is a jumble of needless location swaps, conflicting loyalties, flashbacks, betrayals and pointless digressions for gratuitous cameos from The Nazis, Rasputin, “Lobster Johnson,” Baba Yaga and others mainly on hand for no other reason than to unsuccessfully make the whole thing feel less like the small, unimaginative retread that it is on a narrative scale or to justify how often it punches above its weight on the production side and comes off looking shockingly cheap for a theatrical feature in 2019: There’s some interesting set design work and the execution of a mostly-practical half-man/half-pig monster is pretty impressive; but the rest of it calls to mind nothing so much as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation — terrible compositing and weaksauce CGI are the norm, especially in big mostly-animated cutscenes featuring armies of creatures or towering kaiju with no real story presence other than “looking like a thing for the trailers.”The only halfway-notable thing it has going for it are some clever classic-rock needle drops during the action scenes — though the execution doesn’t really fit the tone and mostly feels like an attempt to co-opt the energy of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. But with apologies to director Neil Marshall (a nice dude who I like and who, despite seeming to have lost control of this one pretty early on can still direct the hell out of people in monster suits punching each other) … he’s no James Gunn. And for that matter, Hellboy actor David Harbour is no Ron Perlman — though he seems to be making a game effort despite an underwhelming makeup prosthetic that renders his features all but immobile and unable to convey any real expression (which you’d think would be important for the title character…)Hellboy is a genuine disaster of a movie. It has a handful of decent monster-makeups lounging around with nothing interesting to do and what passes for almost a plot is equal parts a bad version of things yanked from other genre films and very bad versions of things done better in prior Hellboy films; featuring some of the most uneven special effects and pointlessly bloated runtimes in recent memory. It’s ugly to look at, a chore to try and follow, hard to remember from scene to scene and a dreary slog to even bother with; and for all the talk of it’s “faithfulness” to its comic book origins, the execution puts it much closer to something like the Stallone version of Judge Dredd or the Crow sequels. Avoid like the plague. Stay on targetlast_img read more