In order for you to understand my review for the new Hellboy, I need to embark on a quick journey through time to acknowledge both Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). Both of these I’ve only seen once so far, but I remember liking them very much. But even though I liked them, I never understood the hype (at least around mid 2000’s) around Guillermo del Toro – sure, he is stunning visual director, but surely anyone would be able to do what he did with that kind of property, right? How foolish was I…
The latest (would this be considered a remake?) take on Hellboy was supposed to be darker, yet it was trying to stay funny. Emphasis on trying. And sure enough, the movie isn’t shy from being dark (blood, plenty of gore) and have “dirty” fun (plenty of swearing, which I don’t mind) but it’s somehow not jelling well together and it comes across as boring. I know I should not compare the previous movies to this one, but I make the rules around here on this… really tiny blog, so I say why not compare two directors and how they approached the “same” material.
I think the biggest difference is Guillermo del Toro isn’t normal, in the best possible way. He’s by his own admission, into weird things, you could consider him a geek, an enthusiast into monsters, creepy things and he’s managed to make a carrier out of it, standout from the crowd. And that is why his take on Hellboy works much better – because, on some level, he is Hellboy, he understands him better. He’s the guy who no matter what, will always standout, not because of his psychical appearance, but because of how he thinks about things such as camera work, monster design, trying to make them unique… From what I remember about his two Hellboy movies, they both looked visually great, they had that unique feel that I foolishly believed it was so “simple” to achieve with that kind of material…
Let’s go to this Hellboy, shall we? Nothing here looks unique (except maybe one sequence I will talk about soon) and the story is kind of all over the place. There are couple of twists in the movie, but one is twist for a sake of being a twist and the other, at the very end, is just plain dumb. I did say “seriously?” when the twist happened, but not the excited version, like what you’d say to your significant other when asked “I have more chocolate stashed in a cupboard, do you want more chocolate?” It was more along the lines of your boss asking you to do overtime for no money, that kind of vibe.
The only memorable thing about this movie for me was the Baba Yaga sequence. Not only it felt more “horror-like” (which I wouldn’t mind if most of this movie felt like this) but I actually liked the Baba Yaga’s monster design, as that actually looked unsettling. So, whoever has done that, really great job to you.
The rest of the movie is just a mix of bland CGI with some blood and guts, with David Harbour trying his best, but missing the mark big time. I know this was probably the direction he was given, so I don’t really want to say he did a bad job, but this version of Hellboy didn’t work for me, as there wasn’t much to grasp, the whole “I’m different, and yet I fight for those who hate me for it” didn’t hit me the way it did with the previous movies. The same goes for Milla Jovovich – I really, really admire her and everything she’s done, but she wasn’t really given much to do here and the movie is worse for it. Shame movie, for wasting two great actors like this.
And it’s a movie’s fault really, as I believe the biggest problem was with the tone. Either Neil Marshall or the producers tried to balance comic book movie with horror/action/comedy and the result is something that’s trying to be all of the above, but fails horribly in every genre. For a comedy it’s not funny, for a horror, it’s no scary, for an action movie, there isn’t enough action. I wouldn’t mind having just a darker interpretation of Hellboy, with little to no jokes, more skewed towards horror, like that Baba Yaga sequence. That would at least differentiate itself from its predecessors and gave us, the audience, something truly unique and definitely better than what we’ve gotten now. This mixed bag of nothingness, that somehow managed to take really popular and beloved actor from Stranger Things and make him… really meh. Don’t even get me started on waste of Milla’s character (what was her screen time in total, 10 minutes…?)
Would I recommend watching the new Hellboy movie? Yes, I would, but only if you’ve seen the previous two movies. Not because they are connected (they are not) or because this one is great (it is not) but to make more people see why Guillermo del Toro is considered one of the best directors alive right now and to give him (albeit retrospectively) the credit he deserves. And yeah, also for the Baba Yaga sequence.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,