Neil Marshall's Hellboy is shambled collection of excellent creature designs, awesome R-rated action sequences and trying performances attempting to capture the heart and soul of the character, blended together with humor that absolutely doesn't land and a script that could use a few more once-overs. Consider this one a mixed bag of bad ass.
Neil Marshall‘s Hellboy reboot is a film that tries hard to bring the character back to his R-rated horror roots, but a film that is plagued with the feeling that this isn’t the ultimate cut of the movie. For what it’s worth, Hellboy is a gory adventure into the darkest and most evil corners of the source material.
Hellboy is also a film that tries so hard to be funny, but struggles finding its own heartbeat as star David Harbour spews out vulgarity as he cracks jokes with his prosthetically-constructed face that makes for very little emotion.
Hellboy is definitely a cheaper and more “ground-level” approach that mostly benefits from Neil Marshall‘s horror aesthetics and a collection of mostly capable performances.
Hellboy doesn’t crumble because of Harbour’s hit-or-miss performance or because of Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich‘s supporting efforts. In fact, most of the cast makes the best out of the situation, giving the film the experience it needs to make up for its lacking script and absolutely cringe-worthy attempt at humor.
Not a single joke lands throughout the entire film and it’s felt early on. There is nothing funny about this Hellboy, despite the constant attempts at humor.
But this Hellboy is scary, bloody and just as creative in the creature department as anything made by Guillermo del Toro, which is a giant surprise.
Most thought that only del Toro could bring the fantasy goods, yet Marshall and his crew make the best of their modest budget and darker vibe by giving us truly terrifying monsters that are full of detail and feel like more than just CGI splatter for Hellboy to knock down.
The film’s script doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, which results in a film that feels absolutely tension-less and without much worry. But Hellboy‘s lack of importance, despite the stakes being as high as possible, make for a movie that’s a decent amount of fun.
The action never steers away from violence, which is what the previous Hellboys lacked. There’s also a bigger focus on horror, bringing demons and creatures to life in a way that will make your spine tingle.
I’m not sure if I’d ever bother rewatching this version of Hellboy, but I’m not upset that I spent two hours watching an R-rated Hellboy movie directed by a guy that knows a thing or two about horror movies.
David Harbour gives it his all as the leading man, but his line delivery is atrocious and his lack of ability to move a muscle in his face shows through all of the make-up and prosthetics. I won’t deny his physical ability to “get into character”, but I spent most of the movie missing Ron Perlman.
Hellboy is far from a complete bomb, but it does feel like there’s a better version of the film sitting around on Lionsgate’s shelves somewhere. Perhaps a directors cut could remedy the film’s odd pacing and lack of focus?
If not, then I feel that most will find enough to enjoy in this version of Hellboy to go out and catch as a matinee. Hellboy might forever be the dark horse of the modern day comic book movie era and that’s okay, because I doubt he’ll care much — just don’t piss him off.