Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim
Directed by Neil Marshall
Good news: Neil Marshall, the British director best known for the spelunking scream-fest The Descent, is back making features after spending 10 years doing TV (his credits include two classic Game of Thrones episodes). The bad news? Hellboy isn’t exactly the glorious comeback we have in mind. Instead of being one helluva ride, it’s hell to sit through.
The story: Hellboy works for this X-Men-meets-X-Files covert unit called Bureau of Paranormal and Research Defense. His latest mission: stop the apocalypse orchestrated by Nimue the Blood Queen (a strangely bland Milla Jovovich), an evil witch from the Dark Ages. Unbeknownst to the Devil's spawn, he plays a part in triggering Armageddon.
Or something like that.
The two Hellboy movies Guillermo del Toro made more than a decade ago, starring Ron Perlman as the cat-loving, wise-cracking demon-turned-defender-of-humanity are gorgeous, grotesque and fun to watch. Hellboy 2.0, with Stranger Things’ David Harbour as the devil’s spawn (he's okay but sometimes he looks like he's dressed for an SNL skit), is just grotesque. And gory, too.
While blood-fiends will relish the liberal carnage1, the rest of us have to put up with the choppy pacing, drabby visuals, iffy SPFX, wonky accents, baffling plot turns, and a London-set climax reminiscent of the one in The Mummy, the Tom Cruise remake, not the Brendan Fraser version. It’s never a good thing when one bad movie reminds you of another bad one.
Another problem with this Hellboy is that it’s overstuffed, too busy setting itself up for the sequel it doesn't deserve. Why can’t Marshall and writer Andrew Cosby just focus on the story at hand? Like spending more time with the marvellous Ian McShane, who’s underused as Hellboy’s adoptive father. Now, that itself is a punishable crime.
That said, stick to the trailer — it’s the only thing that doesn’t give you a migraine. Better yet, go watch del Toro’s Hellboy. (**)
1 There’s also a family-friendly PG13 cut which I imagine is with all the mayhem and expletives trimmed. I pity the kids who are suckered into watching that watered-down version. They deserve better.
Photo: Lionsgate/Millennium Media