The “Hellboy” reboot is a fecal matter weather event film fiasco, a gory ill-conceived debacle that drives a stake through the heart of the franchise, no matter how many post-credits “teases” the producers tack on.
For the record, there are two. For the record, you won’t want to stay all the way through those credits to see them. Unless, of course, you want to take names and troll assorted producers, stars, writers and effects crews that had the misfortune to put their names on this disaster.
Let the record also reflect that David Harbour is no Ron Perlman, the first and only big screen “Hellboy,” a crimson, de-horned, dismayed superhero from Hell. Harbour’s big and bulky, but not quite funny, no matter how many chances (not that many) the dreadful script gives him.
Still, we meet him in promising circumstances. He’s on a mission to Mexico to retrieve a rogue agent. He’s already famous. Being red and having a tail will do that for a guy.
The former colleague is now a luchador, a masked Mexican wrestler. And he’s been possessed by a demon. So Hellboy has to best him in the ring to accomplish his quest for the B.P.R.D — the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
But hell, let’s cut to the chase. “Hellboy” goes wrong BEFORE this introductory brawl. A Pythonesque prologue, narrated by Ian McShane, takes us back to the hellish past when The Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) was beheaded by King Arthur, dismembered, her parts scattered all over England’s green and pleasant woodlands.
Hearing Jovovich, a corpseless head, scream about revenge as she’s carried off may be the funniest thing since “Tis but a FLESH wound. Have at YOU!” To complete the Monty Python reference.
The movie that follows is all foreboding, warnings (“The End is coming,” but not soon enough.), duels with giants, treacherous allies and demons out to fetch all of the Blood Queen’s body parts so she can bring about The End Times.
McShane plays the grizzled professor/agent who found Hellboy as a Hellbabe, thanks to the Nazis and Rasputin. That makes him “Dad.”
Sasha Lane (“American Honey”) is a rescuer/sidekick, Daniel Dae Kim is a fellow agent and everybody else we’ll leave out of this because, heck, they’re going to want to work again.
The fights are kind of fun, even if Harbour can’t quite pull off the world-weary profanity that showed us how perfect Perlman was in the part. Seriously, if you watched “Stranger Things” and thought, “The SHERIFF is the charismatic heavyweight we can turn into a hero,” you have more foresight than me.
Jovovich loves playing villains, but “Revenge is the only sustenance I need” doesn’t do it for evil empress of the underworld banter.
Thomas Haden Church is the only performer who gets away unscathed, a dorky, long-in-the-tooth early superhero Nazi fighter named The Lobster. He eats up corny dialogue and honks it out with style.
British director Neil Marshall usually has better luck with single-word titles — “Descent,” “Centurion.” Here, he was so dismayed at what he’d put his name on that he planted this story about what the set was like, what tools the producers were, how Harbour treated him and what a mess was made that wasn’t really his fault, says he.
Somehow, mere words describing screenwriter Andrew Cosby’s incompetence won’t do the trick. So I’ll just post a link to this.
I liked the original “Hellboy.” Not a lot, but with Perlman, David Hyde Pierce and director Guillermo del Toro, it had its moments.
The new “Hellboy” feels like the end of the road for the character and the franchise, no matter how many post-credits teases they give us, no matter how old and not-long-for-this-business the idiot producers who still own the rights, and who put this mess out there might be.
MPAA Rating:R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language
Cast: David Harbour, Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Sophie Okonedo, Thomas Haden Church, Sahsa Lane, Daniel Dae Kim
Credits:Directed by Neil Marshall, script by Andrew Cosby, based on the comic book. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 2:00