Rotten Tomatoes rules that Neal Marshall and Lionsgate’s Hellboy reboot is unpleasant fruit; but is it really that bad? Well, it has its flaws and there are a few, as you’ll see, but it offers more.
In the new Hellboy, our main character (played this time by the spectacular David Harbour) goes on missions for the B.P.R.D. and his dad, Prof. Broom (Ian McShane), fighting however begrudgingly against his own kind and his destiny — to bring about the apocalypse. The reemergence of a Medieval witch, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), slain by King Arthur might nudge him closer to that fate.
Stuff is recycled from the original. Hellboy’s origin is the same except Lobster Johnson (Thomas Haden Church) was thrown in, no doubt for a cheap pop from fans of the graphic novels, and it’s downplayed to keep things moving. But all the set pieces are there: Nazis, Rasputin, and World War II. And if you’re wondering whether Broom makes it out of this one alive or not — you can check that parallel off the list too.
One thing, among several, detractors are up in arms about is the phony accents. Milla Jovovich phones in an English inflection when she doesn’t need to, and it would have been preferable if she was more natural. Going by her social media posts defending her work, she was losing herself in the role of the witch and just having fun with it. Her choices are blatantly blithe if anything.
Daniel Dae Kim is another story. He sounds like he is supposed to be British — here and there — but his dialect is inconsistent and doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.
A moderate scandal leading to Ed Skrein quitting got Kim the role. Honestly, they did Skrein a favor: Ben Daimio is not in much of the movie and serves almost no purpose, although he is given an expository flashback to make him matter.
He is also supplied with a mystical bullet to kill Hellboy just in case because nobody really trusts the big red demon; and just about every five minutes, someone is trying to kill him. Does Daimio use it or does his opinion of the big guy change at the end? You can probably guess.
Some are squalling about all the blood. An R-rated, supernatural action thriller about an avenging demon from Hell has a lot of blood and gore? Who’d have thought? When dealing with Hell, witches, creatures of the night and vampires aren’t they meant to be hellish?
The CG might not be top notch but it plays to the movie’s kitsch value that’s not as horrible as Sharknado or Birdemic either — and people love those films for what they are. When Hellboy hurls trees at giant ogres to rock music the scene is what it’s supposed to be.
One more thing for those who can’t get over the first two adventures: in case you remain chagrined and yearn for Abe Sapien, wait around until the end.
It isn’t so bad. Some comic book movies aren’t transcendent — Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider films, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Green Lantern — though you can have fun with them. Hellboy is one of those. David Harbour makes it easy for us; he carries the film with everything he has.
Moreover, if we didn’t have Guillermo Del Toro’s movies to compare it to, and it came out a decade ago, this one might be called a decent halcyon effort. But it suffers because everybody misses Del Toro and Ron Perlman and there is no getting around that.
- Ian McShane.
- David Harbour.
- Their subplot revolving around Hellboy's usual struggles with his humanity.
- Rehashes beats and plot points from the first one.
- Lobster Johnson reduced to cameos.
- Ben Daimio is an extraneous presence.