There’s a reason most of you skipped out on seeing the Hellboy reboot in theaters. It’s not because it’s a completely awful movie. It’s just that it’s so mediocre. With so much talent in front and behind the camera Hellboy ‘19’s shortcomings make it all the more disheartening to watch.
You might remember way back in April, Hellboy opened to savage reviews before it disappeared from theaters to make room for that Endgame movie. You decided not to actually pay to see something so critically derided, thinking you’d wait until VOD or until it came out on Blu-Ray.
Maybe seeing it in the comfort of your own home would temper your expectations. Hell, even an undercooked Hellboy would still be pretty good.
It’s not so much that Hellboy ’19 is undercooked in that it’s overstuffed. Not too much of a good thing, but too much a of a ‘meh’ thing. Even those of you that kind of liked the movie still have to qualify it.
Hellboy ’19: Not the worst movie of the year.
Sadly enough, that’s the highest praise one can muster.
Hellboy begins with a chunky block of exposition that will define most of your viewing experience. We’re in Arthurian times with King Arthur, Merlin, and yes, Excalibur.
If you remember from 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight also featured Merlin and King Arthur and look at how that turned out.
Professor Broome (Ian McShane) does an extensive prologue voice-over about how Arthur and Merlin fight the evil Blood Queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich, waiting between Resident Evil paychecks). Arthur uses Excalibur to cut Nimue up into a bunch of pieces and send her body to various parts of the world never to be put together again until about 30 minutes of screentime.
Not before Nimue vows to destroy the world, something, something, yada, yada.
Hellboy begins for real this time with Hellboy (David Harbour from Stranger Things in his first major lead role in a film- sorry) working for the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) seeking out an agent who’s been turned into a vampire but is also a lucha libre wrestler.
You’d think with a sentence that fun to write the movie would be that fun to watch. It’s not.
After dispatching of the Mexican wrestler/vampire, Hellboy recounts the vampire wrestler’s final words: Something about Hellboy bringing about the end of the world.
Maybe he should have said something about bringing about the end of this movie. Saved us all the trouble.
Those words haunt Hellboy as his daddy Broome sends him on another job for the BPRD. He’s gone to England to help the Osiris Club (an adjunct group/club to the BPRD, but with British accents and frillier uniforms) fight 3 giants that have been wreaking havoc.
Anyway, these giants (yes, actual giants) have been tearing apart the English countryside searching for…something. I wonder if it has anything to do with those chopped-up body parts from the overly long prologue.
Hellboy is ready to fight except that the Osiris Club betrays him and leaves him for dead. This might be more of a spoiler if it didn’t happen 20 minutes into the movie. I might be more reluctant to spoil things if this movie were actually good.
Fortunately, Hellboy’s not dead and still has some friends, or rather, temporary allies that could help him out. There’s-
- Alice (Sasha Lane)- she’s a medium for the dead and can pack quite a punch if you upset her enough.
- Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim)- he works for M11 (whatever that means) and has scratches on his face. Wanna know how he got his scars? He’ll show you eventually.
Hellboy and Co. will have to get the hell into Dodge and stop Nimue from being resurrected. Or else…nothing much will happen.
There’s a reason Hellboy ’19 is one of the worst reviewed movies of the year. Or rather, many reasons.
What Works With Hellboy (2019)
- The only one of the studio-backed production team that truly earns his paycheck is production designer Paul Kirby. Say what you will about the movie, but at least it looks good. If anything, Hellboy ’19 is a feast for the eyes, just not any of your other senses.
- Baba Yaga (played by Troy James and Emma Tate) is, by far, the best part of Hellboy and the movie elevates every time she/it appears onscreen.
Too bad it’s just for an extended cameo. In retrospect you wish the entire movie was just about Baba Yaga and her child-eating ways.
What Doesn't Work With Hellboy (2019)
- Director Neil Marshall (The Descent, one of my favorite horror movies of the 2000s) seemed like a more than capable director for this R-rated material. But he stages scenes and sequences that don’t really add up to a cohesive whole. The entire enterprise has a stop-and-start quality that will have you looking at your watch wondering if the movie will ever get good.
Spoiler- it doesn’t
- The specter of Guillermo Del Toro’s far superior, far more fun Hellboy movies loom over every frame of this rather dour creation. You’ll always have those to wash the taste of this competently conceived but unevenly executed production.
- A 2-hour running time that feels like 3 when it should have been an hour and a half. Blame screenwriter Andrew Crosby for the reams of empty speechifying.
- Me, while watching this. In retrospect, it might have been better had the movie been outright terrible so you’re not in some shallow pool of hope before you drown in the basic bitch atmosphere of it all. That dizzy feeling you have while watching is your spirit slowly leaving your body, searching for another viable vessel, one that’s not sitting through this soul-killing endeavor, hoping and praying to a god that doesn’t exist for the sweet release of death.
What might have been a passable monster movie is merely a blip on 2019’s cinema landscape. You wish Thanos could snap Hellboy 2019 from your memory like Avengers Endgame snapped Hellboy from theaters. Will Blu-Ray and DVD make for a better viewing experience? Possibly, but at least you’ll be and stop and leave when you want to. Hellboy? More like Purgatory person, because that’s where you’ll be as you watch this.
Favorite word you can make from the letters in Hellboy
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