You’re Probably Never Getting A Great Hellboy Movie
Hellboy fails because it tries to appease fans with empty theatrics.
The film also managed to alienate its fan favorite director, force nonsensical edits and then make David Harbour into the world’s most expensive Ron Perlman cosplayer. Normally, this is where a studio would count on the mainstream audience to bail it out up the middle. But, your average audience member doesn’t give a damn about Hellboy.
So, what’s left to do? Either you admit you made a mistake and try to salvage it or lean into the mistakes. No attempt was made to salvage this movie. I can’t remember the last time I saw a studio lean so hard into the giant mistakes and made more.
I will say that I appreciated the Hellboy 2019 Funko that got sent along to promote the film. Much like that plastic figure, this movie looks good. It just doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground.
David Harbour never gets to have a personality as the lead. Perlman’s shadow looms heavily throughout the performance. Well, except for when he fights with his father figure Ian McShane at every given tour. Oh, look! The elderly actor said Fuck just like he did on the HBO Western that people appreciate in hindsight.
There’s something about trying to appease everyone and never appealing to anyone. It’s indicative of Western culture in 2019, but it’s also true of any compromised art throughout the years. You can’t give a film over to a bean counter and make a film. Accounting isn’t art.
What accounting does is it takes a read of what materials you have on hand. Cult fandom, superhero leanings, comic book support base, interested actors, the ability to shoot cheaper and a soft spring release date not to compete with the bigger superhero movies. If you’re a producer or studio head, these are the things to consider. These are grocery lists decisions. Head out to the store and pick up something for Charlotte Kirk while you’re there.
Throughout every inch of this film, that mentality was present. You would get 10 minute spurts of cool visuals, fun character from the comics and then jarring return to the film. Hell, it was distracting to see Milla Jovovich actually destroy all in a movie. Her Nimue is the kind of role that would blow her up in a better movie.
Is it wrong to just want monsters to fight?
In the period between Captain Marvels and Avengers, why should we take another trip to the Hellboy well? Honestly, it’s because people still love a good monster movie. Damn me for expecting a Hellboy movie to actually have in-character moments of supernatural daring feats.
When we got real battles over the stuff with Excalibur and even the lead-in at the end, this film worked on the level that I wanted to see. Unfortunately, you can tell that 20-30 minutes got cut from the final film. Everything herks and jerks, while scenes have no sense of tempo. Yet, when those set pieces hit…it’s just perfection.
A few early reviewers have complained about the James Gunn influence on the film. Well, that’s to be expected. You have to find a way to get the Hot Topic crowd to quit vaping long enough to check something out. Honestly, the bean counters missed an opportunity to have Hellboy branded Juul pods.
The normies need humor to process violence anymore, not matter how CG or cartoonish. The best thing that Del Toro did with The Golden Army was just go crazy on the monster design and give the characters room to breathe. Hell, even the Irish fairy style monsters pay homage to the Del Toro style. Cue the Mignola fans in 1, 2, hard snooze.
If I have to listen to Billy Idol or some garbage to see detailed monsters smash each other, then I’m going to put it up with it. Hell, it beats watching beloved characters act out of nature, as the film grinds to a halt in between what’s the Queen of Blood doing now scenes?
Before we leave, I wanted to say something. I enjoyed a few selections in the film, but that final scene enticed me enough to check out a sequel. What can I say? I love Abe Sapien.