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Hellboy 2019: Ugly, Miscalculated, Complicated


Directed by Neil Marshall, in the new Hellboy movie, Hellboy is up against the blood queen who is looking to destroy the world with a deadly plague.


Full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan of the Hellboy character. Guillermo Del Toro did an astute aesthetic job with Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, and, while I enjoyed the latter, the former bored me. But the new reboot of the red-skinned paranormal investigator took things even further downhill because we now have an easy contender for one of the worst movies of 2019.


The new Hellboy is abysmal. It’s boring, charmless, unfunny, irritating, and at times genuinely unpleasant. There is a clear vision somewhere among this gross trainwreck, but it’s vehemently impeded by studio interference.


I was anticipating this movie not only because of Neil Marshall’s (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday) involvement, but also because of David Harbour as Hellboy. Harbour is unquestionably the best part. He’s likeable, charismatic, and a badass. But his characterisation is bogged down by an atrocious script.


The script itself is loaded with insultingly verbose exposition, a completely disjointed plot and archetypal characters. It’s not helped by the fact that the editing is garbage. There is no even flow, there is no thought-out structure that’s able to keep the plot afloat.


The theme of prejudice that’s been prevalent in every Hellboy flick has re-surfaced here but it’s never integrated in a way that furthers the character development. It doesn’t make a difference because the public’s view of Hellboy is never really felt. That’s what made it work in Hellboy 2 especially because the way people responded to him was real, and it was felt because I felt how it affected him.


That human element no longer really exists in the reboot. This movie is too focused on showing off half-assed CGI and buckets of violence and gore. Don’t get me started on the way Alice Monaghan’s ability is shown; it’s actually disgusting to look at, I hated it. When this is what the movie devolves into, it becomes abrasively dissonant and astoundingly boring.


Aside from David Harbour, Ian McShane and some cool creature designs, the rest of the cast deliver archetype-level performances, the story is muddled, the violence is exhausting, the direction is heavily conflicted and it’s never entertaining or fun. Hellboy was nothing more than a botched studio job. Ugly, miscalculated, complicated – not recommended.


Written by Seán Mac G.