HOLLYWOOD—It is funny that one of my colleagues just discussed issues pertaining to the problem of remakes last week while discussing the movie “Pet Sematary.” While he didn’t give that film a glowing review, he didn’t completely pan it either. I wish I could be as generous with the comic book remake of “Hellboy,” but sometimes there are those movies that just need to be left alone.
The 2004 flick, which first introduced audiences to the smart-mouthed superhero, was light years before the film “Deadpool” which took audiences by surprise. Let me remind you that version was PG-13 and starred actor Ron Pearlman who seamlessly fit the role; he looked like the character and didn’t portray him as a caricature. He also had strong supporting players with Selma Blair, Jeffery Tambor and Doug Jones.
This rebirth in the franchise has “Stranger Things” star David Harbour taking on the iconic role. Now there has been plenty of talk about Harbour not actually fitting the character in terms of appearance and I disagree. Harbour definitely has the makeup and look to portray the brute, the problem is the script. It’s beyond bad, it’s horrid. The thing about mixing comedy and action is that you have to have a certain element of spontaneity that just clicks. “Hellboy” doesn’t have that. He’s a far cry from Robert Downey Jr.’s iconic Tony Stark aka Iron Man, and Ryan Reynolds as the wise-cracking pouty-mouthed hero “Deadpool.”
Is this to say “Hellboy” lacks jokes? No, not on the contrary, it has plenty of jokes; they just don’t land for the audience. I mean the jokes are so bad you spot the joke immediately and you’re left scratching your head with the notion that the filmmakers thought they delivered a funny troupe. The movie without a doubt earned its R-rating. I mean the violence, the language; the sex is just a bit much for a superhero flick.
I’ve always made the argument that you can’t teeter in the superhero universe, either you’re all in or not. It’s like watching “The Dark Knight.” Christopher Nolan KNEW that he was taking the character and the franchise in a darker atmosphere and did not intend to incorporate jokes or silly banter into the narrative. And guess what it worked. With “Hellboy” the violence is visceral, in your face and almost felt like I was watching a slasher flick from the 80s and left me uneasy to my stomach.
Milla Jovovich steps into the role of villainess as Nimue, the Blood Queen and it’s rather silly if you ask me. There’s not really anything treacherous about the character that makes the audience fear for our hero, and the climactic battle is underwhelming to say the least. I hate that; when you have to wait nearly 90 minutes for an epic fight that only last a few minutes and is an utter disappointment.
If there is one thing the flick has going for it, it’s the visual effects which are spectacular, but I’ve made the argument countless times in the past: special effects cannot save a bad movie, bad acting or a bad script. The sad thing is the film has notable faces including Daniel Dae Kim, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane, they’re just not as fleshed out and come across more one note than anything.
Did “Hellboy” need a rebirth? Perhaps, but the filmmakers should have taken a look at the 2004 original and its sequel which were far more entertaining than this misfire.