Out of curiosity, before I went to go see Hellboy in theaters, I searched around on Hellboy’s imdb page first since I didn’t even know who directed it.
To my surprise, Neil Marshall directed this. He hasn’t done a ton of features, but the ones he has done are pretty entertaining. I think gaining fame with his action horror werewolf movie Dog Soldiers. Though I guess what he’s most known for is The Descent.
Then I looked at who the writer was and… let’s just say I’m less impressed as this is his first feature, with a background purely in writing for tv shows.
But the warning signs don’t stop there, as I noticed something else that was a bit more alarming.
And that would be the giant list of producers attached to the film’s credits.
This film has 15 producers in total, like this is some kind of crowd sourced Indiegogo campaign or something. For example, let’s see how many producers were on the original Hellboy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. The total comes out to 5.
What that tells me is Neil Marshall didn’t really direct this movie. Sure, he showed up and did what he was legally obligated to do, but with 15 producers telling him what to do… this isn’t his movie. And he sure as fuck didn’t have a say in how this was cut together in post-production.
And oh boy can you tell, because Hellboy 2019 is a fucking mess.
Remember how great the first Hellboy movie was? Remember how likable Hellboy was? Or how funny the movie was and how great the characters were? Remember the assassin that was filled with sand and needed to be wound-up like a broken windup toy?
Yeah, there’s none of that in this reboot.
Hell, I don’t even think they bothered to animate Hellboy’s tail, most of the time when we see it, it’s just dangling down like an old man’s sagging ball sack.
The special effects are so shotty at times, ranging from good to fucking terrible. There’s this giant man boar character that I thought looked pretty decent, but then you’d get something simple like a scorpion crawling on Hellboy’s hand that looked fucking terrible or a helicopter that looks like something I made in After Effects. I mean, fuck, I actually did do a helicopter in After Effects for a short I made years back and I’d say it’s about on par in quality.
Okay, maybe not, but my point remains. This film looks like something headed straight to video. After first watching the trailer, that’s exactly where I thought this movie was going, to a cable box near you!
Okay, they didn’t have the budget, but what did it have?
Well… What this film had plenty of was gore. But it wasn’t fun gore, it was gore for the sake of gore. You know how when AVP: Alien vs. Predator came out and people complained that it was PG-13, so when the sequel came around they went way too far and over the top with the gore?
That’s what Hellboy 2019 felt like.
It’s the Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem of the Hellboy films.
Maybe not as bad as that, actually…. I know exactly what film this felt like.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Not a great film, but not terrible. Which sums up Hellboy 2019 pretty nicely.
This might go against popular opinion, but I’m actually not a fan of the second Hellboy movie. I didn’t think the plot was as strong as the first and when you get down to it, that’s the main issue I have with the 2019 reboot.
The plot sucks!
I’ve never read a single comic of Hellboy, so I have no idea if this is following a specific storyline from an issue or not. You have this source material to take from, I don’t know why’d you would completely ignore it.
I know Guillermo del Toro did his own thing as well, but if there are interesting storylines from the comics, why not use it? Or! Maybe that’s the problem, they did try to use from it.
Thomas Haden Church randomly pops up as the Nazi Hunter, this straight out of a comicbook over the top character, and then just vanishes from the movie. He’s there for maybe 30 seconds and we never see him again. It honestly screams of one of the 15 producers wanting it included.
Or maybe the opposite happened, where he could of had a much bigger role but was cut out of the movie like that Jewish bomb defusing robot from You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Or for an even lesser known reference, Johnny Knoxville from Killshot. He’s in the trailers but he sure as hell isn’t in the movie.
I’m not one of those purists that thinks only Ron Perlman should play Hellboy. David Harbour from Stranger Things fame was perfect casting. Unfortunately, they didn’t give him much to really work with here.
Half of what makes Hellboy work as a character is him sarcastically playing off others. But there’s no one in this for him to do that with. There are two supporting characters that randomly pop up about midway into the film, but they’re so lazily introduced, I had no idea they were meant to be our supporting characters.
The way they are introduced to us makes it seem like passing characters like The Nazi Hunter, but no, they stick around.
In Alice’s case however, I’m not completely sure why she sticks around after getting introduced. She has the ability to talk to ghosts, but besides that, she is so easily put on the team it was like pointing to a guy passing by on the street and making him squad leader of your strike team.
Even her background is oddly introduced to us. It comes off like we should know who this is, Hellboy remembers her from something, but we don’t find out what until much later through a flashback.
It felt like the flashback should have been shown to us much sooner as well, since the man boar that I mentioned is a part of her backstory and is the reason why he’s helping The Blood Queen reassemble herself. He wants revenge for what Hellboy did to him years ago.
You might be asking yourself who this Blood Queen is…. Okay, plot breakdown time.
They start the film off giving us an introduction into The Blood Queen, played by Milla Jovovich, who by the way, doesn’t look like she’s aged since The Fifth Element. Maybe she is a real life witch.
Over a narration, it is explained that The Blood Queen, who I guess was just a very powerful witch, unleashed monsters unto England but was stopped by King Arthur when he used Excalibur to cut her head off.
The film does have its moments however, as the highlight of the film for me was when Hellboy is tasked with killing some giants for the Osiris Club.
They’re a British organization that… honestly, I don’t really know what they do. Aside from hunting giants that is. Hellboy’s father, played by Deadwood’s own Ian McShane, was either a part of this group or friends… him and the group crashed the Nazi party trying to summon a demon from hell.
That demon happened to be a baby Hellboy. That’s when we get the random and quick appearance from The Nazi Hunter. Okay, I looked it up, yes he is a character from the comics as Lobster Johnson. He has this burner in his palm that he uses to burn his symbol into his victim’s foreheads.
It turns out that the Osiris Club’s true purpose in getting Hellboy there was so they could hunt him, kill him to prevent the prophecy their seer foresaw.
Hellboy is saved by the giants showing up and murdering the hunters. Then Hellboy has to finish off the giants. Best part of the film really.
Exhausted and still recovering from getting attacked by the hunters, Alice randomly shows up to help.
This would actually be the perfect time for that flashback on her backstory, so we know how she relates to Hellboy. But nope, we don’t get that until much much later into the film.
But unlike the movie, I’ll just tell you who she is now so things make sense.
Alice was a baby when she was replaced with a changeling. Hellboy threatens the boar that if he doesn’t return the baby, he’ll hunt them all down and kill them.
So that’s why the boar now wants revenge, because Hellboy took away his chance to live a good life masquerading as a human.
And we don’t get that info until the last 10 minutes of the film. For this minor character, we had to wait until the end of the film to get his motivation.
Alice on the other hand, I guess grew up fine, except for the fact she can now talk and summon ghosts.
So one thing I will give the film credit for is how cool she summons ghosts. She has to vomit out the ghosts, almost taking the form of her insides, so it looks like she’s puking out her internal organs. It’s actually pretty creepy and gross.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have her be an agent of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) but the British division in London where most of this film is set?
As it is, she just tags along through the rest of the film for no real reason.
Our second minor character is Agent Daimio, apparently he is a character from the comics, but like Alice, he’s introduced much later into the film. His face has been horrifically scarred from a werewolf attack years ago, leaving him now with the ability to transform into a beast.
He also hates monsters, leaving him pissed off he must team up with Hellboy to stop the boar man from reassembling all of The Blood Queen’s severed body parts.
He even goes as far as to get a special bullet made just to kill Hellboy with.
I would have liked to actually see the bullet get used somehow, maybe against The Blood Queen, or maybe these horrific hell beasts that get summoned, but all he does is change his mind about Hellboy and smashes the bullet, it was made of glass by the way. How a glass bullet would have fired without shattering, I don’t know.
When Hellboy and his crew show up to confront the Osiris Club for trying to kill him, they discover everyone has been slaughtered by the boar, with him stealing another one of The Blood Queen’s body parts.
They now have all her parts assembled and the only thing that can defeat her is to once again use Excalibur.
There’s some backstory here explaining that Hellboy’s mom was somehow related to King Arthur who was taken by a devil into hell where she was impregnated, giving birth to Hellboy.
Is that his origin story in the comics? I think I prefer what the original film hinted at. Remember that Cthulhu looking thing?
Since Hellboy is technically a demon, him wielding Excalibur isn’t the best idea, since it will make him uber Hellboy and cause the apocalypse.
Alice uses her ghost summoning powers to call back Ian McShane. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Hellboy’s dad Dr. Bloom died. Anyway….
The ghost of Dr. Bloom snaps Hellboy out of it, giving him enough time to turn the tables on The Blood Queen, re-cutting off her head.
So I guess that’s why Alice was in this movie. What a cheap reason to keep a character around.
And that’s pretty much it for the film. I honestly don’t really remember what happens after that…
Oh wait! I do remember. Some time has gone by and we see Hellboy, Alice and Agent Daimio doing a raid on a cult where they find Abe Sapien still in his tank.
Nothing is more hilarious when a shitty film sequel baits you.
The comedy in this was so bad, with every joke fell flat. To the running gag of Hellboy crushing the screen on his smartphone every time he uses it, to just his unfunny quips. You could tell someone with a history of writing for tv shows wrote this. The bad sitcom humor is always a dead giveaway.
The writing was so bad at times I had to look away from the screen out of embarrassment.
The plot or I should say, how the plot unfolded was awkward at times. Almost like 15 producers wanted their say in the final product. Characters at times just walk into a room and start spewing exposition in ADR.
The special effects were also heavily lacking, especially compared to Guillermo del Toro’s version. There are some interesting designs to the demons The Blood Queen summons at the end to attack London, but everything else felt so generic.
In the end, I’d give Hellboy 2019 a very lukewarm RENT rating. It might be worth checking out when it comes to Netflix or to rent on Amazon, but don’t waste your time or money seeing this in theaters.
Next week I’m taking a break off since there is a chance I got jury duty.
So that means I’ll be back next time with Avengers: Endgame.
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