Hellboy is an indictment of all that is wrong in Hollywood. A completely short-sighted attempt to re-write a series that is neither good enough, or old enough, to demand one.
I apologise, as I usually take longer to get to my ultimate opinion, but my disdain for this film cannot be contained for even a paragraph of build-up.
I wasn’t even a big fan of the original two Hellboy films, but they were at least interesting to look at, and were never given a chance to breathe under the influence of Guillermo Del Toro, their visual style was probably the best thing about it, which given GDT’s reputation is hardly a surprise, but this is one of the many, many things that didn’t make the journey back from hell, where this film should have stayed.
Half-human and half-demon Hellboy works for a government institution investigating the paranormal, often working with people who openly hate him (can’t say I blame them). He is called to England after an immortal 5th Century witch is resurrected, intent on destroying humanity.
So, I pretty much gave the game away in the introduction, I hated this film. Hated every stupid, ugly, unnecessary minute of it. Its sins are numerous, but its biggest sin is just being so crushingly dull.
It’s barely been a decade since the last Hellboy film, was there really a need to revisit this series so soon? If at all?
Without even getting into the morals of whether this film should exist (it shouldn’t) but even as a movie it’s so offensively bad that it makes you forget what goodwill you had for the series and replaces it with pure, vitriolic hatred.
The visual style which was so well-implemented? Gone, and replaced with special effects that would barrenness a video game from the late 90’s. Seriously, I give less of a toss about VFX than Pavarotti did about keeping a low-carb diet, but I won’t apologise for expecting them to look at least presentable. To put it bluntly, the film is down-right ugly. Even though the creatures are supposed to be ugly, they aren’t ugly in an interesting way, they’re lucky if the look like a reject from a later Hobbit film, over-designed yet incredibly dull.
The story is drab and awful, and the dialogue seems like its written by someone with saucepans for hands, if I had a pound for every dreadful one-liner, every unnecessary swear word, worked in about as well as one would work a killer whale into an oven and every line that didn’t make sense, I’d be a millionaire, several times over.
The film spends its entire run-time building a third act confrontation that it never pays off, it’s fight scenes are straining so hard to be ‘cool’ that you can practically hear the screen-writers tense. It layers each fight with loud, rock music, hoping to seem cool and edgy, instead it just pulls the drab action into focus and seems tone-deaf.
As for the acting, it’s up and down. I feel sorry for David Harbour and Ian McShane as they seem like the only actors who gave a damn, and frankly, who can blame them? Milla Jovovich wouldn’t look out of place on a straight-to-DVD release, chewing so much scenery that I’m surprised there’s any left, Daniel Dae Kim delivers his lines like an android with a low battery, but given the piffle they were given, I can hardly expect an Oscar-worthy performance.
As I’ve said before, the worst sin a film can commit is being boring, and Hellboy isn’t just boring, it’s obnoxious. It’s plot develops without incorporating nuance, events happen disjointedly, without a rhyme or reason, and to make things worse, you can barely see what’s going on because it’s so terribly lit. Although at this rate, I’m willing to count that as a plus.
Also, I’m no prude for violence, but this film verges on fetishism. Someone can’t be shot in the head unless their blood and brains can splatter over a wall, and fair enough if there’s a reason but there just isn’t. The tone flickers between wacky comedic quips, to harrowing, gritty violence, with barely a time to breath, revealing its threadbare script for exactly what it is. It has to rely on shock rather than tell a good story.
I’ve never felt like a film has wasted my time as much as Hellboy. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a boring, idiotic, incomprehensible, ugly, poorly-conceived mess. I would list all the things I would rather do than re-watch Hellboy, things that include anaesthetised dental surgery, and castrating myself with a rusty spoon, but I fear we’d be hear all day. If you value your time, do not watch this film, even if you don’t value your time, don’t watch it. This is a film that was born in hell, and should never have risen again.