by Philip Price
Directed: Neil Marshall
Starring: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich & Ian McShane
Runtime: 2 hours
While one might expect a single-word description of how they feel coming out of something called “Hellboy” to be along the lines of "bewildered" or "curious" or even "confused" what it actually feels like coming out of Neil Marshall's 2019 re-boot of the Hellboy comic character is "numb".
There is so much happening in this desperate (which makes zero to no sense given no one was clamoring for more) attempt to bring Mike Mignola's comic back to the big screen in hopes of launching another new franchise that it doesn't seem anyone involved stopped long enough to consider what that franchise might need to look like given the context of its existence. Instead, screenwriter Andrew Crosby is throwing as many characters, subplots, flashbacks and countless other things at the audience at once that it's overwhelming to the point of feeling nothing. That is to say, this new “Hellboy” fits squarely into the cliché of "everything and nothing all at once".
If one were to describe “Hellboy” and everything that it contains it would be almost ignorant to think that what was about to come your way couldn't potentially be one of the greatest albeit most ridiculous things ever while in reality it turns out to be nothing short of the definition of incoherent. And despite so much going on, nothing lands, nothing to make you-the viewer-care about anything or anyone on screen, and while there is technically a narrative here this is mostly just an excuse to exercise some cool practical make-up and prosthetic techniques as strung together through blandly executed action sequences (except for the final, epilogue scene - where is that “Hellboy”?!?!).
It’s not all bad as David Harbour, taking over for the much-loved Ron Pearlman who previously dawned the sawed-off demon horns in Guillermo del Toro’s two original films, is seemingly having a lot of fun and making the most out of having the opportunity to play the character, but his vigor isn’t near enough to justify sitting through an extended two-hour runtime for a movie that could have been streamlined into 90-minutes of pure, horror/action schlock. This version of the comic is what it seemed Marshall wanted to make given he was granted an R-rating by Lionsgate, but even the leaning into of the restricted rating is wasted on an excess of blood rather than being capitalized on with more creatively gruesome endeavors.