Neil Marshall’s Hellboy

Why we couldn’t have just gotten a third Hellboy movie with Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman at the wheel is beyond me, instead of this grossly miscalculated, eye melting mish-mash of bad CGI and disorganized storytelling. It’s sad too because it could have even been decent, they got an accomplished filmmaker I really love and a handful of super awesome cult icon actors to cast the material appropriately, but somewhere along the line of creative process, Neil Marshall’s Hellboy just shits the bed and comes out largely a piss poor effort. I love David Harbour too, he’s a terrifically charismatic and versatile artist but he just doesn’t fit the bill here, his Hellboy comes across as whiny, dour and all the wisecracking fells inorganic and forced. Plus let’s face it, there just wasn’t any hope for any other actor than Perlman to properly sell the character, plain and simple, he was born for it. Harbour’s Hellboy is stuck in a murky plot line about an ancient evil sorceress called the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) who has been resurrected by a human/wild boar hybrid to wreak havoc on humanity in some vaguely malicious ritual that involves knockoff Del Toro creatures stomping around London ripping people in half, cue the tiresome CGI. It’s loud, messy, the gore is off putting and there’s just too much noise and commotion to properly discern story or character. Does it do anything effectively? Yes, credit where credit is due, there’s a wonderfully eerie sequence where the pace mercifully calms down a bit as Hellboy visits a terrifying monster called the Baba Yaga, it’s essentially an expository interlude but it’s handled incredibly well, full of tangible atmosphere and genuine terror. Some of the cast fare pretty well, Ian McShane is always awesome and adds a brittle, corrosive edge to Trevor Broom where John Hurt was more subdued. The lovely Sasha Lane is quite effective as a member of the paranormal defence team who is a medium and can summon dead spirits in a genie-like mass of ectoplasmic slime, but Daniel Dae Kim comes across painfully lifeless as a guy who can only be described as the offspring of a werewolf and a cheetah. Most of the supporting cast are just drowned out in a flurry of noise including Sophie Okonedo as a ghost lady, Brian Gleeson as Merlin (yes, that Merlin) and a brief, bizarre appearance from Thomas Haden Church as some dude whose name is Lobster (can you tell I haven’t read the comics?). The film just doesn’t work, aside from a few exceptions that come too little, too late. Everywhere the Del Toro films were tactile, colourful, atmospheric and well written this one is obnoxious, needlessly gory, rushed and unwieldy. You’re better off just revisiting those and pretending this one doesn’t exist.

-Nate Hill

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