I am a firm believer that people should be able to enjoy the movies they want to enjoy without criticism or insult from others. The tastes of moviegoers cover a vast range of likes and dislikes, and that is perfectly fine. It is a part of what makes filmmaking a form of art, as people debate the merits of what they experience.
However, some movies are so bad that they really have no redeeming qualities to them. Hellboy is one title that fits the bill.
Hellboy (2019) is the story of Hellboy (David Harbour) and his work in fighting the supernatural. As a part of a secret underground organization, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), Hellboy works with his father, Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) and the relationship between father and son is often contentious as they misunderstand each other and don’t always see eye-to-eye. Bruttenholm, however, still relies on his son to do the dirty work. As a demon from Hell, who better than Hellboy?
What ensues is a resurgence of old magic and evil that was defeated in the time of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin. The witch Nimue has returned to unleash havoc and to bring monsters from out of the shadows. Her mission is to bring about the end of times and Hell on Earth, but, unknown to him, she needs Hellboy to do it.
A reboot of Hellboy (2004), Hellboy (2019) attempts to breathe new life into the devilish fighter fifteen years later. Following in Guillermo del Toro’s footsteps, Neil Marshall directed this adaptation after plans fell through to make it a sequel of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Ron Perlman, too, refused to be a part of the film and to reprise his role if del Toro wasn’t involved. Much like Neil Marshall, there were big shoes to fill when David Harbour was offered to play the titular character.
What makes this Hellboy different is its tone. It is darker, with more gore and a lot more swearing. Nearly all of it is gratuitous. It is precisely the movie any teenage boy and diehard fans of Hellboy want to see.
The visual effects and makeup are a huge part of what makes this film worthwhile. It’s clear that there were some talented and imaginative people involved in creating the characters and bringing them to life.
On top of this, the best acting in Hellboy comes from David Harbour. It’s clear that he is working hard, despite the script and story he’s been given. He’s an excellent replacement for Ron Perlman and makes the character his own.
Just about everything else.
The writing and screenplay for this movie are so all over the place that there really isn’t any cohesive story by the end. As Hellboy and his associates are running all over the place and discussing the moral quandaries of monsters in the world, you’re left to wonder what is happening and why. Parts of this movie seemed to just be filler. Reportedly, there were too many people involved in the production of this story, and it suffered as a result.
And, although there are some noteworthy makeup and visual effects to see here, there are a lot of moments that don’t work. They look bad, and it’s apparent that they’re computer-generated images or scenes that didn’t render well.
Most importantly, perhaps, is that Hellboy is a movie going through an identity crisis. It doesn’t really know if it wants to be a horror, comedy, action, or fantasy tale. Instead, it tries all of them at once and fails to pull any of them off. The tones that are set throughout the film just don’t compliment each other as they quickly change.
Unfortunately, this is two-hours that I won’t get back. Going into the film, I had no idea it would be the second King Arthur-themed story I’d see this year. The Boy Who Would Be King knew exactly what it needed to do to present a fun, compelling story and Hellboy just couldn’t pull itself together. It disastrously burns out and serves as an example of what not to do.
This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review