Rating: D for Daimio!
Summary: Hellboy must save the world from the Blood Queen.
Ten bucks says that Ian McShane signed on to this movie, thinking he’d get to work with Guillermo Del Toro and missing the news that it was actually a reboot. That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with as to why he bothered to make this.
So… yeah. I miss Guillermo. “Kelly, that’s so biased! This needs to be judged as its own entity!” I swear, I’m going to get to that. But I do need to mention here that the original Hellboy series has a very special group of fans, a whole lot of heart, and just purely engaging visuals that are fun- I’ll go as far as to say straight up delightful- to watch.
That being said, it damn near about broke my heart when this reboot was announced, based purely on scheduling conflicts and money grabbing, without giving anything to a cast, crew, and audience that really cared about this series. I think while the original series might not have made as much as today’s current lineup, it was well appreciated and deserved a proper ending. Go out with a bang, wait a couple of years, then do a reboot. But don’t discount something’s success just because it’s not raking in big bucks. It’s disheartening that something as unique as Del Toro’s Hellboy was shelved in order to make money.
It’s impossible to watch this new iteration without being reminded of What Could Have Been had the studio waited for Del Toro and Perlman… especially because this movie is a fucking mess. I’m not just saying that because I miss Del Toro- I went in ready to give this a chance, but it is a shitshow. There are a couple of reasons for this: the storyline is jumpy without any fluidity or natural movement, it doesn’t know what genre it wants to be (is it a B movie? Is it horror? Is it action adventure? WHERE IS THE ADVENTURE?), and for the most part, all of the exposition is a narration or very explicit dialogue (this is this, that is that, and now we are here! kind of thing).
I’ve read in a few places that they were making this for fans of the Hellboy graphic novel series and it certainly reads as a canonized series of short stories. They chose a fair director in Neil Marshall, as he has mostly television on his resume (two of Game of Thrones biggest episodes, Blackwater from Season 2 and The Watchers on the Wall from Season 4). This just doesn’t work. And I don’t buy the excuse “We made it for fans of the graphic novels.” That’s just something that people can spit out when something they like is criticized. The truth is, this is a different medium and the lack of focus with the story, the lack of how each scene plays into the larger picture that is the plot- it’s appalling.
I haven’t even gotten to how mediocre the CG is and how dreary the visuals are. There’s nothing remotely interesting to look at. It’s so monotone that Hellboy himself barely registers as a very dark pink in the action sequences. It is really hard to see or make any coherency of, and I’m betting this is an attempt to cover up bad special effects. This is a movie about demons and hells and witches- give me sharp contrasts! Give me vibrancy! And aside from two and a half action sequences that tricked me into thinking the movie was finally getting somewhere, boy, is it rough. Between the shakey cam and questionable editing, I had to close my eyes every few minutes. You know how we referred to Venom as gooey Transformers? Hellboy makes Venom look like Ready Player One. Yes, I’m serious. I really mean that.
I’m willing to go so far as to say- I’d rather watch Assassin’s Creed than this. If that doesn’t give you any indication as to how much effort it took to get through this movie, then you should go watch Assassin’s Creed. But not this. Anything but this.