Was this reboot highly anticipated? No. Was it any good? No. Can you blame David Harbour? No. This is a clear-cut case of good actor who made the most of his role but script and technical issues caused this to be bad.
Originally sent by the Nazis to wreak havoc upon the world, Hellboy has since been raised by Professor Broom, who had turned his new son into a good guy and trained him to be a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Forced to kill his former partner after he had become a vampire, Hellboy, still racked with guilt, is given a new assignment and this one is his most dangerous one to date.
Gruagach, a fairy who Hellboy nearly defeated years ago, wants revenge and he has heard of the legend involving The Blood Queen, Vivienne Nimue. Having been defeated by King Arthur years ago, Nimue’s body was cut to pieces and placed in various chests all across England. Gruagach begins to bring back Nimue and put her back together. In the midst of this mission, Hellboy learns of some shocking revelations involving himself and with the help of old friend Alice Monaghan, a powerful medium, and military leader Major Ben Daimio, who has a secret of his own; Hellboy sets out to learn this true destiny but will he be able to defeat Nimue?
When Ron Perlman took on the role of Mike Mignola’s comic book character Hellboy in 2004, Guillermo del Toro’s take on the property was met with great fanfare as was its 2008 sequel. As many were hoping for a 3rd installment, it was with sadness to announce that Mignola opted to reboot the film and hired David Harbour, in his stride as Sheriff Hopper on Stranger Things to take the role. Despite fans being up in arms, Perlman gave his blessing to Harbour, Andrew Cosby was hired to write the script, and Neil Marshall directed the film with the intention of making it a more faithful R-rating. Where did things go wrong?
Before we get into the bad, let’s actually start with something positive and that is in fact David Harbour’s performance. He may not be Ron Perlman, but he made Hellboy his own with the humorous one-liners and someone who is very ticked off when he learns the truth about his past and what he was originally meant for. Harbour channels a combination of Perlman with his own take in the role of the one-time demon’s son. And despite some support from Ian McShane, who plays Professor Broom in the same manner as his iconic Winston in the John Wick trilogy, you can’t blame Harbour for this reboot failing.
The script of the film is just one of the problems that plagued the film. It tries too hard and attempts to make Harbour a carbon copy of Perlman, but it’s not exactly the best idea to imitate. Harbour thankfully brings a bit of his own personality in the film, but they had a better chance to making this a third installment with Perlman and del Toro returning. There were too many issues with the script, giving the supporting actors more of a chance to overact. Besides Harbour, I did enjoy Daniel Dae Kim’s performance as Japanese-British major Ben Daimio, who does become a monster of his own despite his rivalry with Hellboy at first and that leads into the other major issue of the film.
The other major issue involves the CGI work put into the film. Granted, this did have a lower budget than the original 2004 and 2008 films. However, the CGI work put into the film looks like it came more from a late 90’s to early 2000s indie film rather than a big budget film. Daniel Dae Kim suffers the most from this with his transformation scene into a were-jaguar looking more like something that came out of Bad Moon rather than 2010’s The Wolfman and even the final jaguar itself looks like something out of a TV show. In addition, some of the creature effects looked a bit too hokey. Again, it is understandable that this is a lower budget, but the script did carry too much in terms of these brand of characters and overall, it looks like one mishmash of a mess.
Hellboy is a reboot that nobody asked for and nobody wanted. However, David Harbour is not to blame for this mess. It more lies within the script and very horrendous CGI because Harbour made the most of his role replacing Ron Perlman. This is a clear-cut case, but you will want to avoid this one unless you are a fan of Harbour’s.
WFG RATING: D
Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment presents a Millennium Films/Nu Boyana production in association with Campbell Grobman Films, Dark Horse Entertainment, and Encore Films. Director: Neil Marshall. Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Michael Richardson, Les Weldon, Philip Westgren, Yariv Lerner, Lloyd Levin, and Carl Hampe. Writer: Andrew Cosby; based on the comic book by Mike Mignola. Cinematography: Lorenzo Senatore. Editing: Martin Bernfeld.
Cast: David Harbour, Sasha Lane, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Sophie Okonedo, Stephen Graham, Penelope Mitchell, Nitin Ganatra, Rick Warden, Alistair Petrie, Thomas Haden Chruch, Kristina Klebe.