Main cast: David Harbour (Hellboy), Milla Jovovich (Nimue), Ian McShane (Trevor Bruttenholm), Sasha Lane (Alice Monaghan), Daniel Dae Kim (Ben Daimio), Thomas Haden Church (Lobster Johnson), Penelope Mitchell (Ganeida), Sophie Okonedo (Lady Hatton), and Brian Gleeson (Merlin)
Director: Neil Marshall
Count me in as one of those few people who wish they had continued from where the previous Hellboy movie left off instead of doing a reboot. This is because that setting has enough lore to be interesting, so it seems redundant to simply reboot everything and start from scratch again. While it is unrealistic to expect Ron Perlman to reprise his role as the titular character – he’s way too old to subject himself to all the make-up needed, plus he’s too busy being a ranting lunatic these days on social media – I do miss his infectious brand of kick-ass portrayal of that character. That Hellboy oozes both bravado and vulnerability well – this particular Hellboy, on the other hand, is too busy posturing and shouting like a first time WWE performer who is too conscious of the teleprompter near him.
We start again with a heavy touch of Arthurian legend. Back in the old days, the immortal Blood Witch called Nimue was about to turn England into a Disneyland for ghouls and monsters when she was betrayed by her sister witches and had her body dismembered into still-living body parts by King Arthur. The good guys placed the body parts into safes and buried them far away from one another, These morons then installed a safety measure: the safes can only be opened by clerics of some evil, mad god. Uh, those are exactly the kind of people who would want to open the safes, those idiots – have them be opened by clerics of good gods, instead! At any rate, the plague of Nimue was gone, phew… or not.
In the present day, Hellboy is doing his thing when his father Trevor Bruttenholm asks him to go to England and assist the Osiris Club, the spook-busting BFF organization of Bruttenholm’s Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), The Osiris Club needs Hellboy’s strength and plot armor to help them track down three giants roaming wild in some woods. Oops, it turns out that while there really are giants on the loose, the Osiris Club really wants to kill him, as their seer, Lady Hatton, recently saw that Hellboy would usher in the apocalypse after taking the throne of England. Eventually he is rescued by Alice Monaghan, who turns out to be the grown-up version of a baby he helped once to rescue from the nastier fairies out there. The changeling baby initially placed in Alice’s place grew up to be Gruagach, the pig-like creature who harbors a deep grudge against Hellboy for denying him a life as a human.
So, Gruagach in the meantime receives advice from the evil Baba Yaga to carry out his vengeance by recovering Nimue’s body parts for the Blood Witch’s resurrection. Nimue in the meantime decides that she really, really wants to be Hellboy’s consort so that they can rule together, while Hellboy only wants to know that his foster father really loves him and people will stop seeing him as a monster. The suspicious BPRD officer Ben Daimio rounds up the heroine tirumvirate which already has Hellboy and Alice – but he also believes that Hellboy will eventually give in to his evil side, and Ben is going to be the one to kill him before that comes to be.
I know, the story! Hellboy resembles a series of unrelated events stringed together via the premise that Hellboy is about to be the most evil king ever, and everyone either wants to stop him or see that he ends up fulfilling this destiny. The script by Andrew Crosby is a muddled mess, as instead of building anything up, it just pulls convenient revelations and twists out of its rear end. Is Merlin even necessary in this movie? There are many things here that are included to be hooks for sequels – things that don’t add anything to the existing plot and only serve to clutter it up even more. Why bring up Lobster Johnson? Sequel, most likely. Ben Daimio isn’t even necessary here, as he can be easily erased without affecting the story line much. As for Alice, she is a sidekick that conveniently gets powers at the right moment to kick ass, how nice. The whole movie resembles some kind of video game plot, only the player is using some kind of hack to skip big chunks of the game, so the whole thing feels disjointed.
David Harbour may be okay as Hellboy, I guess, if I hadn’t seen Ron Perlman’s take on this character. This Hellboy is written to be some emo, not-smart-at-all brute who just won’t stop cracking one-liners as a shield against the world, but there is nothing much to find if I scratch beneath the surface of this character. He’s just there to break things, kill people, and act like a third-rate wisecrack machine. Sasha Lane’s Alice is even worse: she does the non-stop wisecrack thing to an even more insufferable degree, while Daniel Dae Kim doesn’t have much to do here than to affect a half-hearted British accent whenever the movie remembers him and makes him say a few lines. These characters have no depths, no memorable traits, nothing – they are flat and lifeless like the non-stop CGI drenching this movie. Poor Milla Jovovich – her powerful witch character is reduced to being a creature who just wants Hellboy’s devil horn and Nimue is finally be rid of in a laughably anticlimactic manner.
Oh god, the CGI. The whole thing looks like it’s made in the 1990s, as a test guinea pig for people who are using CGI software for the first time.
At any rate, I never asked for this Hellboy reboot, and watching it, I find myself missing keenly the heart and soul present in the original Hellboy but noticeably absent in this one.