“Hellboy” reboot is a bloody mess

David Harbour barrels through “Hellboy” as the starring character the best he can, held back by a cheap costume. 

Alexander Gray

The reboot of “Hellboy” turns Guillermo Del Toro’s modern cult classic into a mindless monster-masher destined for late night TV.

“Hellboy” didn’t need to be anything more than an entertaining popcorn-flick to succeed. The comic book character fights demons, both real and his own, teaming up with colorful cast of monster hunters, but none of it is interesting. The movie’s greatest sin is boring the audience to tears.

“Hellboy” is the tale of two star-crossed lovers. One, a giant red demon raised to protect humanity, prophesied to bring about the apocalypse. The other, a vengeful “Blood Queen,” intent on turning his power to destroy the world. Truly a match made in Hell.

The titular demon’s adventure is near impossible to follow during the movie’s sluggish two-hour runtime. Hellboy is yanked from one location shoot to the next with little reason or consequence to the overarching plot. Random story threads tie together, the movie claiming “destiny” as a stand in for lazy plot convenience. 

One moment he’s fighting vampiric luchadores in Mexico, the next he’s hunting man-eating giants in London because Hellboy’s daddy-issues tell him to. The fight scenes are just as over-the-top as you could dream, but not enough to save the movie.

“Hellboy” (2019) eschews the mysterious Lovecraftian atmosphere of its predecessor in favor of a corny rock-and-roll soundtrack, lowbrow humor and copious amounts of bloody violence.

While gore has its place, the movie lacks a grindhouse flick’s commitment to camp. The action borders on sadistic when hellish monsters eviscerate and crush innocent victims in shocking detail.

There’s a cheap, ugly CGI-sheen coated over “Hellboy,” the reboot’s aim of sweeping, epic storytelling cut short by a low budget. Del Toro, now an Academy Award-winning director, knew his strengths, opting for practical effects and costumes in the original film. His meticulously crafted special effects still hold up years later, while this reboot is instantly dated.

David Harbour had no chance of living up to Ron Perlman’s original, iconic portrayal of the character, but does the best with what he’s given. His performance is still enjoyable at times, even when hampered by a brutish script and stiff rubber suit.

Milla Jovovich as the resurrected “Blood Queen” is the hammiest part of the movie and that’s including her giant were-boar henchman. With plenty of leading time to showcase her talent in the six “Resident Evil” movies, it’s hard to imagine why she still gets casted.

There are few bright points in “Hellboy,” however for all 20 fans that made it past the trailers, there are plenty of references to the long-running comic series’ mythos. Lobster Johnson, played by Thomas Haden Church, makes a goofy and all-too-brief cameo. The 1940’s pulp hero and his claw of justice marked a stylistic highpoint in an otherwise bland movie.

By the end “Hellboy” is left just as incredulous as the audience, his final line taking the words right out of the viewer’s mouth: “Wow. Alright, that happened.”