It’s remarkable to me that the studios decided that a Hellboy 3 would not make enough money to justify the cost of making it with Ron Perlman and Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro. But somehow a different studio saw making a completely different Hellboy as viable? How much less could it have cost to have a reasonable profit margin assuming it even makes as much as the first two?
Anyway, the one positive that may come from this reboot is vindication for del Toro. It turns out not just anyone can make a Hellboy movie, even if you have a beloved genre actor in a red suit.
The movie gets off to an okay start with Ian McShane narrating an irreverent Dark Ages flashback and Hellboy (David Harbour) going to Tijuana to find a missing BPRD agent. Hellboy’s finger breaks his phone. That’s a modern update. I also learned the Hellboy in Spanish is “muchacho el infierno.”
Then they start jumping around from place to place giving us title cards saying where we are. It stands out because they’ve already dumped so much exposition on us I’m not quite sure why we have to go to so many places. Maybe just stay one place and do it well, but of course plenty of great movies are globetrotting so that alone is not the problem.
Every single character stops to monologue their backstory which leads to a flashback. There’s at least one evil ritual too many. 90 minutes in, the exposition gets so ridiculous it would be magnificent if the movie didn’t take it so seriously. The most absurd image in the movie keeps happening long after the plot resolves. I won’t spoil it but it tries to have an actual emotional moment,
This Hellboy is much crasser than del Toro’s. Between the gratuitous violence and the sloppy monster tongues this movie revels in being gross. I’m no slouch when it comes to violence, but it made me think Robocop got rated X for violence, and Robocop is brilliant. The people getting ripped in half by demons here don’t have anything to say about corporate America. In 2019, no one cares how much blood is in an R-rated movie. They probably had to fight to show the one boob, if anything. Demons roaming the streets of London isn’t fun either, and if you can’t make demons ransacking London fun, what’s the point?
Harbour is good. His humanity comes through the makeup. Hellboy screams a lot. He probably has to to be heard through the face and teeth, so I won’t fault him for that. And you can tell when he’s not screaming, normal dialogue sounds like mumbling. Unfortunately, it’s just no fun watching Hellboy fight CGI.
If Hellboy wasn’t a strong enough property to survive decent movies, I certainly don’t see how it can survive a bad one. Stranger things have happened though. Get it? Because David Harbour… I’ll show myself out.