British director Neil Marshall is responsible for two of my favorite horror films, 2002’s “Dog Soldiers” and 2006’s “The Descent.” So, when he became attached to the new “Hellboy” reboot I felt somewhat relieved after mourning the possibility of a trilogy helmed by Guillermo del Toro with Ron Perlman in the title role. David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) takes over as the half-Demon paranormal investigator in what should have been a fire-and-brimstone thriller instead of this disappointing hot mess. Over the top gore, excessive swearing, bland rock music, and an R-rating don’t make this edgy, just noisy and dull.
Blending gore and comedy is an art form that was perfected by Sam Raimi with the “Evil Dead” series and “Deadpool” proved an adult superhero film filled with swearing (84 F-bombs at last count) can be quite entertaining. “Hellboy” fails at both counts with overblown CGI effects that make the gory scenes look phony while most of the swearing is done by everyone but Hellboy including a hog-like creature named Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham) who becomes the most annoying computer-generated character since Jar Jar Binks.
The events that take place in this new reboot are based on creator Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse Comics including “Hellboy: Darkness Falls” which features the witch Baba Yaga (portrayed here by phenomenal contortionist Troy James and voiced by Emma Tate), a grotesque old hag that brings back memories of Jack Nicholson’s make-out scene with the woman in Room 237 from “The Shining” and “Hellboy: The Witch Hunt” which Marshall’s film draws upon heavily.
Milla Jovovich plays villain Nimue The Blood Queen, a powerful sorceress and air bender who wants to rule the world with Hellboy as her king. Jovovich is such a great physical actress that she seems wasted in this role. We are used to seeing her doing stunts in the “Resident Evil” films but her she’s just waving her hands and watching TV. Ian McShane (“John Wick”) is a welcomed addition to the franchise as Professor Broom, Hellboy’s father and head of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), and Sasha Lane from “American Honey” is cast as Alice Monaghan, a medium who was rescued as a baby from the fairies by Hellboy.
Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel must have overseen editing and sound mixing because everything is turned up to eleven. Bland generic rock music blares out of the surround speakers, the only recognizable song being one from Mötley Crüe, probably all the producers could afford after spending most of the cash on CGI, plus the film is edited into a frenzy of non-stop monsters, gore, action, and noise to the point where it becomes monotonous. From King Arthur, Merlin, and Excalibur to Nazis, giants, and scenes straight out of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Constantine,” and “The Evil Dead,” it feels like the film is trying too hard to please everyone.
If there is one thing the producers of “Hellboy” hopefully learn is that less is more. Instead of incorporating storylines from several of Mignola’s comics they should have concentrated on just one. You must remember, Hellboy is half-human and del Toro did a great job of concentrating on that aspect of the character. Marshall’s film lacks passion and without it you're left with a repetitive barrage of what seems like a 12-year old’s fantasy film.