Hellboy is a straight up terrible film with very few redeeming qualities. The film only seems good on paper with the IP and talent involved. It even starts off well and loses steam very quickly. And if the weekend box office numbers are any indication, this was a franchise that was best left dead after Guillermo Del Toro’s critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing Hellboy films.
Hellboy fights the monsters who threaten human lives, and soon he’ll come face to face with his biggest foe yet – the blood queen. She wants to eradicate the world in its current state and build a new one where humans and monsters can live in peace (or so she says). This isn’t a very intriguing or original plot. There are glimmers of hope when the film tackles themes of fate/destiny and Hellboy questions whether he’s on the right side of this battle. However, these are very conveniently resolved and interesting inner conflicts are never fully fleshed out. For the most part, the film remains narratively uninspired and fails to warrant any engagement. There is so much character specific flashback and exposition, and yet the film never fully establishes the world it’s taking place in.
The writing is a major problem. None of the characters are well developed and it’s hard to care for anyone. Even the protagonist’s arc feels forced and inorganic. Hellboy tries hard to be humorous and insert as many witty one-liners as possible. Unfortunately, I have never seen so many “meant to be funny” moments fall completely flat to a packed audience. I had the odd chuckle, but too many of the jokes just didn’t land. The dramatic elements don’t connect either. I never felt emotionally invested in this film.
David Harbour makes for a fine Hellboy, but can only do so much with the poor script. Milla Jovovich is completely wasted in a role that requires her not doing much at all. We’ve seen her kick so much ass in so many movies and she absolutely could have been a terrifying and formidable antagonist if her character and the story were better written. The rest of the supporting cast is just there to serve the plot.
There are a few fun action scenes, but even those eventually get boring. Some of the special-effects work and character design seemed rather cheap. I’ve seen more believable monsters in video-games. The rocking soundtrack is fun, and the film is very fast paced with so much happening that you may be able to overlook many of its absurdities. For those who want to see a demonic beast slashing open monsters in a complete gore-fest, it’s not like there are many options.
Hellboy is easily the worst film I’ve seen in 2019 so far. Banish this film to the depths of hell and keep it locked up there. Don’t waste your time and money on this one.