I actually purchased this movie on iTunes a long time ago (I think because it was on sale for under $5), but never really got around to watching it until just the other night (for Halloween, actually!). I was initially attracted to the premise because of the success of the earlier Hellboy movies starring Ron Perlman, and the promise of gore and violence to excess. I didn’t really know who David Harbour was (still don’t, if I’m being honest), and I knew it wasn’t well-received, but I thought perhaps it would be one of those entertainingly bad movies, at least.
It turned out to be the first movie in a very, very long time that I actually stopped watching halfway through, and have absolutely no desire to finish. Violence and gore is about all it has going for it – and even then, it’s tainted by poor CGI and prop/sets that appear to outright defy the laws of physics.
Essentially – from what I gathered in the first thirty minutes or so – Hellboy is on earth, part of some society of folks that go around dealing with monsters and demons and preventing them from wreaking havoc in the world. We’re treated to a dreadful opening flashback in which Milla Jovovich is gorily skewered and decapitated because she’s some kind of evil blood queen (this doesn’t appear to kill her, interestingly enough), before returning to present-day in which Hellboy fights an old friend-turned-vampire in a Mexican boxing ring, before being despatched to England to deal with some giants. (Yes – this is the opening of the film.)
From here, he is swiftly betrayed by the giant hunters in England, though we don’t learn why as they are themselves swiftly decimated by the giants themselves. Hellboy wakes up some time later only to take on the giants and destroy them with what seems like reckless ease, only to then pass out (I guess from the exertion of destroying giants?) and wakes up in some girl’s flat and that’s when I was just like nope – this is making zero sense whatsoever. (All the while, Jovovich’s character is being reassembled from her severed body parts found across the land by her demon-slaves, or something.) Again, this is the first thirty minutes of a two-hour movie.
This movie is literally a disaster. From the pacing to the dialogue to the shoddy CGI and ham-fisted plot, there is just … just no redeeming this abomination of cinema. At one point Hellboy swings a sword four times his own height into a giant’s skull, parting it almost completely and showering the viewer in CGI blood that looks like nothing more than melted plastic, or the blood effects of a 2005-era video game. In the same sequence, he skewers another giant with a tree. A literal tree. And yet tasers seem to incapacitate him fairly easily.
I don’t know. I think it’s a shame, really, because there was potential here; the opening boxing ring sequence wasn’t bad, and it wastes great talent such as Ian McShane (Winston from John Wick, or Blackbeard from Pirates of the Caribbean) on ancillary roles with absolutely no meaningful dialogue. It’s boring, predictable, and worst of all, has zero structure that sets up conflict. It’s rushed, too; along with everything else described, we also learn (in the same first thirty minutes) that Hellboy was raised from hell as a child demon, and taken in by Ian McShane’s character to raise as a son … because that also just makes so much sense.
Anyway, there’s really not much else to say about this film, other than save yourself the rental fee – or at least the time out of your life – and watch something better. Almost any other movie on earth is more worth your time than this disaster.