Hellboy review: An insipid and charmless R-rated reboot 

There is no discernible reason for this film to exist, and it proves that from the first scene to the last. The writing makes Michael Bay look like a modern-day Shakespeare. It’s nearly impossible to believe this was directed by Emmy nominated Game of Thrones director Neil Marshall. The one overriding question among the mayhem is: how much money did they have to pay Ian McShane to convince him to do this film? And in a moment in which Hollywood is seemingly overrun with talented British actors, having not one but two main characters who clearly learned their “British” accents from watching American sitcoms is not just unforgivable, it’s excruciating.

The original two films were absurd, but with Ron Pearlman as Hellboy and Guillermo del Toro directing, they did the seemingly impossible with the source material and made enjoyable, if unspectacular films. Here, without either of them involved and given the green light for an R-rated reboot, the end result is insipid, uninspired and unjustifiably crude. Clearly inspired by Deadpool, but stripped of all charm and humour.  

Daniel Dae Kim, David Harbour, and Sasha Lane in Hellboy (2019). Photo: Summit Entertainment

The film is at least self-aware and tries to make light of the absurdness of the premise. The problem being it is spectacularly unfunny. Which leaves a movie over-saturated with CGI monsters and gratuitous violence. About the only thing going for it is that there isn’t a gratuitous sex scene to accompany it, although in all honesty it would probably benefit from one, if only to break up the monotony of the mindless gore. 

Nitin Ganatra, Michael Heath, Sophie Okonedo, Alistair Petrie, and David Harbour in Hellboy (2019). Photo: Summit Entertainment

I suppose a plot summary is due, although it’s hard to write one with a straight face. Honestly, it’s hard to believe any actor was able to deliver their lines with a straight face. I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Hellboy, and it’s important to note that is his actual name and not just a nickname, is a demon summoned from the depths of hell when he was a boy, hence the name. It’s a surprise the Academy hasn’t nominated the screenwriters already.

David Harbour and Sasha Lane in Hellboy (2019). Photo: Summit Entertainment

Now an adult, Hellboy, played by David Harbour, is a paranormal investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense. The enemy is a witch (Milla Jovocovich) who was defeated but not killed by King Arthur and is resurrected, for lack of a better word, by a swearing Glaswegian anthropomorphic warthog, and together they raise an army. Hellboy is forced to lead a war against these demons but the real enemy is his own destiny.  

Milla Jovovich in Hellboy (2019). Photo: Summit Entertainment

The film is a mess from the word go and never improves. Even Ian McShane can’t come close to saving it. The gore is relentless and even with hyper-realistic CGI is unbelievable and cartoonish. The plot is derivative and predictable, not helped by most of the story being given away in the trailer. The acting is staggeringly over-the-top, at times so bad you’re wondering when they’re going to face the camera and say “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night…”. Sadly, that relief never arrives and the only thing left to do is contemplate what sin you committed to deserve having to sit through this hellish nightmare. 

Hellboy (2019) rating: 1/10