Hellboy

Hellboy was a strange choice to model the fashion collection
Verdict: 
3/10 - This Hellboy reboot really should’ve stayed in the underworld.
Release Date: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Written by: 

Neil Marshall reboots the Hellboy comic book movie franchise, with the new take featuring David Harbour as the titular character.

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Hellboy is one of the newer superheroes - having debuted in comic books in 1993, but thanks to Guillermo del Toro he already has a place in film lovers' hearts, having appeared in two successful screen adaptations in the 2000s.

In their wisdom, producers have already decided it's time for a reboot, with Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall invited to put his spin on the character, and Stranger Things' David Harbour donning the sawn-off horns of the big demonic red menace.

Born as part of a flawed Nazi experiment, Hellboy has been mentored by his surrogate father Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) to battle demons with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), an international organisation dedicated to fighting supernatural threats.

After a mission to Mexico goes wrong, he turns to booze but is called back by his 'dad' to face a new threat to humanity.

Initially, this appears to be limited to giants threatening the U.K., but after an encounter with the Osiris Club, an ancient order who have long protected Britain from demonic threats, he discovers he may have to fight a more ancient evil in the shape of the blood queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich).

Nimue has been dismembered and her body parts hidden around Britain, but Gruagach (Stephen Graham), a pig-like fairy with a grudge against Hellboy, is attempting to put her back together and bring about the apocalypse.

Sadly, Nimue is not the only element in this Hellboy reboot that has been dismembered. The film opens with a scene showing King Arthur thwarting and then chopping her to pieces, before cutting to Hellboy at a wrestling match in modern-day Tijuana, quickly dropping in at the BPRD's U.S. lair before whizzing us back to England.

The rest of the film is barely more coherent - rather than let us learn about the character and his motivations naturally, they are shoved in our face through various strangely cut together flashbacks and odd asides that feel like a box-ticking exercise in explaining his backstory.

After an opening act that feels like a succession of computer game cutscenes, Hellboy reluctantly settles on Alice (Sacha Lane), a psychic young woman he saved as a child, and Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), a government operative with a hatred of demons, as his sidekicks to take on Grugach and Nimue.

Together, the trio must overcome their differences and stop her resurrection.

This could be the premise for a fun, or at least serviceable, buddy movie that satirises superhero convention in the manner of Deadpool (but with even more gore and swearing), but sadly the script is not just wooden, it's rotten.

Strangely, the CGI apocalypses and foes the characters have to overcome manage to look simultaneously quite expensive and yet naff and cheap.

The first time we see bone-cracking gore and blood spattered everywhere (in the movie's opening Arthurian scene) it is vaguely shocking, but the hundredth time you see some poor bloke's organs strewn across a room or street it just makes one feel sorry for whoever has to pay the cleaning bill.

It's a shame, because Hellboy is a character with real potential, as del Toro showed his two films.

The cast also contains several great but sometimes overlooked actors. In addition to Graham and McShane, Sophie Okonedo has an all-too-brief cameo, and all happily let loose, aware their serious acting chops aren't necessarily required.

Harbour, meanwhile, fails to embody the character as Ron Perlman did in the original films - although, to be fair, he is working with much thinner material.

The film wastes their talents and does him a disservice, as the strange editing decisions, bodged together storyline and intrusive special effects, mean this really is a Satanic stinker.

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