Movie Review Monday: Hellboy (2019)
When they announced that Neil Marshall was directing the Hellboy reboot, I was honestly a little excited, especially with David Harbour taking on the titular role. Outside of Harbour, the main cast included Milla Jovovich as Nimue, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson, Sophie Okonedo as Lady Hatton, Brian Gleeson as Merlin and Penelope Mitchell as Ganeida. Milla Jovovich as Nimue, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson, Sophie Okonedo as Lady Hatton, Brian Gleeson as Merlin and Penelope Mitchell as Ganeida. In preparation to watch this new version, I rewatched the 2004 Hellboy a few weeks ago to keep a frame of reference for this film. I don’t think it holds up as well as some think, but there is beautiful production design, mostly strong performances, and decent VFX for a film that’s fifteen years old. Not to say this film doesn’t have those items, but I think the 2004 film is a superior film from a script and visual standpoint alone.
However, all that being said, I’m not going to bury the lead on this one. This Hellboy really struggles to find its footing. It sometimes feels like there isn’t a script at all; there is no flow and needless amounts of excruciating exposition. It’s like there was a group of fans who sat around and figured out their favorite action set pieces with no discernable reason for them existing. It feels very disjointed, filled with some very fun and amazingly gory set pieces.
This might come across as harsh, but in a two hour movie, I looked at my watch multiple times just to try to figure out what setup we were approaching, which never helped. In trying to think of a movie that compared to Hellboy, my first thoughts turn to Suicide Squad. It, too, was a film filled with several fun sequences but didn’t really seem to know what the heck was going on.
Visually, this film is a mixed bag. The visual effects feel underbaked, but the practical effects were at times spectacular, especially when focusing on David’s suit. I knew that this film was going to be rated R, but it was somewhat surprising just how violent and gory it was in very weird and selective moments. Normally it would bother me, but it was some of the more entertaining and funny scenes in this one instance.
Now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, let’s focus on some high points. The first of few high points is David Harbour. He is tremendous in this role, and I genuinely found him to be a great Hellboy. I mostly enjoyed his scenes with Ian McShane as well. It’s hard to live up to a role once held by John Hurt, but he’s mostly serviceable overall. The song choices were odd at times, and I walked away feeling like someone enjoyed the Guardians of the Galaxy films a little too much. There are some funny music moments in there, but you have to sit through a few cringy ones to get there.
Overall, I think this film feels like a common case of studio meddling. I could see glimpses of what Marshall was trying to achieve, but unfortunately, I think there were probably some great moments left in the editing bay. Unless you’re a big Hellboy fan, I’d recommend to wait until this lands on a streaming service or at your local Redbox. I’d still watch a sequel with the way they ended the movie, but I highly doubt I will need to worry about that.
Jonathan is a film enthusiast, video whiz, and extremely knowledgable about all things Star Wars.. He is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow his many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @beachjd.