Hellboy 2019 was released earlier this month. This film is a reboot of the 2004 film of the same name, and has been a point of contention for those who love the original. Reboots are a temperamental thing. Most reboots are either terrible (Ghostbusters 2016) or surpass their progenitors (Planet of the Apes). Some reboots however fall into this middle ground. They aren’t exactly terrible films but they also don’t blow you away. Hellboy falls into this middle ground. I didn’t hate this film but it left a lot to be desired and felt like it was missing something.
The performances were fine for the most part. Harbour does an adequate job as Hellboy. I am not a huge fan of the original two films and I don’t really have any attachment to Ron Perlman in that role, so the fact that this was a Ronless reboot wasn’t as egregious to me as it was to some of the Hellboy die-hards out there. Harbour seems to mumble somewhat in his delivery and not all of the jokes stick the landing. Ian Mcshane as the professor was a highlight, and I preferred him to the frail John Hurt from the prior instalments. His cold and careless demeanour clashed well with the confused Hellboy just trying to find his place in the world. Daniel Dae Kim was sufficient as the Werecheetah whose name I do not know. The reveal of his Werecheetah form in the final battle seemed to be a tad unnecessary seeing as he gets knocked out again almost immediately, providing Hellboy with no real advantage in the fight against the discount Bebop and or Rocksteady (I know neither the actual character’s name or which one is the hog man from the turtles. Sue me). Speaking of Hogmen, the geordie/scouse Changeling Hogman was one of the highlights of the film, providing actually funny moments in a film that perhaps tries too hard at times to be funny.
Sasha Lane as the plucky young psychic sidekick was ok. She was there certainly. I don’t recall much of what she did besides serve as a literal vessel for exposition from dead characters. Milla Jovovich is also in this film as Nimue the blood queen. I would have thought that after the 50 or so Resident Evil films she starred in that something to show her prowess as an actress would be more her speed as opposed to more middling sci fi schlock. The film seems to rely heavily on Ex Machinas as opposed to actually coherent narrative devices. Towards the middle of the film it is revealed that somehow Hellboy is descended from King Arthur and needs to get Excalibur from Merlin to defeat Nimue. There is no buildup or foreshadowing to this. Merlin just shows up and tells Hellboy how one of his ancestors had a fling with a demon which led to him being born eventually.
Towards the beginning of the film Hellboy is ambushed and betrayed by some secret troll hunting society. They take Hellboy out to the countryside under the pretense of needing his help to kill trolls. They then reveal the whole thing as a ruse and just before they can finish him the trolls show up and kill them all saving Hellboy inadvertently. This makes no sense. Why would the troll hunters wait until an actual troll outbreak to attack Hellboy leaving themselves unguarded? It would have been easier to fake a troll attack to then kill Hellboy with relative safety and ease.
The fight scenes for the film feel nerfed also, with Hellboy moving at a snail’s pace and feeling hampered by all of his muscle. Despite this his combat also doesn’t seem very impactful and it feels as though they could have done a lot better in this regard. There is also a subplot of Hellboy doubting his place in a human world for all of 10 seconds before he turns good again. I enjoyed the film, but I found it lacking in many areas and seeming quite rushed in the execution.
VERDICT: Overall I would give this film a 5.5/10.