Hellboy (2019)
Hellboy (2019)

Genre: Action, Fantasy, and Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 1 min.

Release Date: April 12th, 2019 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Neil Marshall Actors: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Alistair Petrie, Sophie Okonedo, Penelope Mitchell, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim

 


 

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n 517 A.D, King Arthur triumphed over the evil sorceress Vivienne Nimue (Milla Jovovich) at Pendle Hill. With his famed sword Excalibur, the knight de-limbed the “Blood Queen” and ordered her sundered appendages to be sent to five different corners of the land. In present day, Hellboy (David Harbour) works with his adoptive father Professor Broom (Ian McShane) at the B.P.R.D, an organization devoted to investigating and generally exterminating paranormal threats to the public. When Hellboy’s help is requested at sister society the Osiris Club, the surly superhero heads to England, where he soon becomes embroiled in the Blood Queen’s demonic plot to resurrect herself and bring ruin upon the world.

A cheeky opening narration (oddly mixed with “Sin City” colorization) divulges an eccentric blend of historical figures, mythology, occult lifeforms (such as a 5th-century witch), and all sorts of supernatural forces. Perhaps even more bizarre is the transition to modern times, where humanity has accepted the existence of the paranormal; Hellboy himself isn’t too much of a shock to see passed out in a Mexican bar or observing a lucha libre wrestling match. Audiences are expected to similarly embrace regular introductions of the otherworldly, adjacent dimensions, and the BPRD’s role; despite this latest adaptation of the Mike Mignola comic book serving as a reboot rather than a direct sequel, many of the initial sequences anticipate that viewers will be familiar with the property.

In a still stranger maneuver, just as it’s becoming acceptable not to have an origins story, a flashback butts in – recreating an origin sequence overly comparable to the 2004 “Hellboy” movie. Its presence is abrasive, but it could have been manageable, were it not for its insertion creating something of a precedent; at numerous other points throughout the film, flashbacks continue to needlessly convolute the premise (including for smaller roles whose backstories are largely meaningless). Hellboy’s appearance hasn’t changed that much either. He’s a bit grungier, with myriad creases and imperfections in his skin, a dark pelage, and disheveled hair, as if this newer Hellboy has had a tougher life. But the filed horns, crimson skin, and thorny attitude are mostly the same, save for David Harbour’s performance, which lacks the charisma and personality that Ron Perlman previously brought to the larger-than-life abomination. It’s difficult to care about mankind’s savior when he’s so unenthusiastic and dull.

“Ridding the world of evil is a dirty business.” To counter Harbour’s ennui, Jovovich gives it her all, struggling to make the terrible dialogue moderately suitable. It doesn’t help that the picture is overlong, stuffed with subplots that have no bearing on Nimue’s world-conquering quest (such as bone-marrow-sucking giants who are themselves merely diversions from other instruments of iniquity), nonsensical characters such as The Lobster (who has no business being in this film, let alone the Hellboy universe), and spontaneously invented predicaments used solely to transport the heroes from one side of the world to the other (like a James Bond film, but with ancient traditions, folklore villains, and touches of modernity all rolled together, noticeably leaning toward the failures of director Neil Marshall’s “Doomsday,” which combined too many incongruous components). Orchestral music and heavy metal also clash, building to chaotic action and constant movement that somehow bores with its static fervency.

Fortunately, practical effects contribute to plenty of stunning visuals, including mutilated corpses and appalling crones. But for every amusing grotesquerie, a computer animated sequence threatens to destroy the momentum – especially those that involve human faces badly layered onto CG bodies. By the end of it all, the story has meandered in so many directions, senselessly merging tales of destiny and legends with a big, bloody mess of apocalyptic mayhem and unoriginal personas that viewers will be glad when it finally stops – even if it leaves unanswered questions and laughable nods to potential sequels in its wake.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10