Hellboy is a deadweight flop of a reboot

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By Tom Goulde, First Year, History

Mike Mignola’s comic book hero Hellboy gets a franchise revival for 2019 but it is lacking in many departments and draws unfavourable comparisons with its 2004 Guillermo Del Toro counterpart.

Advertised as an R-rated reboot, the vicious gore, violence and language is all this Hellboy has to offer. It is no surprise that the film made just over a fifth of what it cost to produce on its opening weekend; however hard David Harbour (as Hellboy) and Ian McShane (as Professor Broom, Hellboy’s father) try to save this film it truly lacks creativity, a coherent plot and good acting.

The movie centres (apparently) on an evil queen (played by an uninspiring Milla Jovovich), who had been killed and dismembered by King Arthur, coming back to life with plans to destroy the world. It is, of course, up to Hellboy and his magical companions (played horribly by Daniel Dae Kim and Sasha Lane) to save everyone. Along the way Hellboy grapples with his past and his apparent destiny as the ‘bringer of the Apocalypse’. He also bizarrely confronts an ancient foe, Baba Yaga (Emma Tate), in a house he has banished her to.

YouTube / Lionsgate Movies

After Guillermo Del Toro and subsequently Ron Perlman (an excellent Hellboy) declined the opportunity to make a third Hellboy in the franchise, Neil Marshall, who directed two of the greatest episodes of Game of Thrones (2011-19), ‘Blackwater’ and ‘The Watchers on the Wall’, was brought in for the reboot. This film however lacks all of the brilliance of Marshall’s past work, although at times his horror influence can be seen, notably the scene with Baba Yaga and the many jumpscares which take place during the 121 minute run time.

However, most of the film feels devoid of the passion that brought so many to the first Hellboy film. The storytelling is jumbled and the scenes feel out of order, at times leaving the audience wondering what is happening on screen.

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IMDb / Summit Entertainment

Hellboy is full of poor quality CGI aided by over-the-top action and extreme language used desperately to try and impress a younger audience. Although there are references to the comics, fans of Hellboy will be disappointed with a film trying harder to be a blockbuster Hollywood hit rather than an ode to the popular Mike Mignola comics.

There are glimpses of a wonderful film. We see Hellboy imagine himself as the ‘bringer of the Apocalypse’ as he swoops over London killing everything in sight. The scene is beautiful, the CGI holds up and the colour red saturates the scene as it should to match the comic’s traditional palette. It is unfortunate that the one scene which captures the imagination and brings the film to life, simultaneously ruins it by being a dream sequence rather than a continuation of plot.

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IMDb / Summit Entertainment

The finest parts of the film involve Harbour and McShane. The two have brilliant onscreen chemistry and provide some of the rare funny moments. When together they actually seem like father and son, a scene near the beginning where McShane ‘shaves’ the horns on Harbour’s Hellboy standing out. It is therefore a shame that McShane, although vital to the plot, does not get as much screen time as many would have liked.

Unfortunately Harbour’s jokes are otherwise consistently off point, mostly shouting at the audience with little comedic effect. Harbour’s Hellboy is hit and miss, at times a darker, more complex character than the one Ron Perlman created 15 years ago, at other times he is boring, unnecessarily loud and tries too hard. He, of course, is not helped by a terrible script which seems to make every scene build up to an inevitable, unfunny punch line.

The post-credits scene hints at a sequel for this franchise but I have a feeling after its box office figures it will not be coming any time soon. The attempt to reboot this franchise is wholly unsuccessful as Marshall fails to produce anything worth remembering. Hellboy attempts to outlast its welcome and is a major disappointment for fans of the comics and Del Toro’s original.

Hellboy is showing at cinemas nationwide.

Featured Image: IMDb / Summit Entertainment


How does this version of Hellboy compare to the comics and previous films?

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