While I haven’t read a lot of the comics, I’ve been a fan of Hellboy after seeing the films starring Ron Pearlman who was perfect for the role both in the live action and animated takes. So here we are a decade and some change later with 2019’s Hellboy, that had me and the rest of the world excited at first as David Harbour of Stranger Things fame seemed to be a good fit. While he does pretty well as the iconic demon hero, and there’s some cool moments here and there, the movie itself is a hell of a mess that only die-hard fans will appreciate.
Editor Ethan Brehm didn’t enjoy the hellish trip this movie gives either, and you can check out his review for all of the plot details and why it’s so bad. I’ll just share my thoughts on it with this release and go over the few special features. I’m totally in agreement with Ethan, as his review perfectly sums up this film. It tries to do too much while going in different directions and goes nowhere in the process.
I was so close to giving this movie a Nay as well, but being the nice guy that I am, I was able to see some good parts that I enjoyed which barely counts for the Yay rating. There are some moments that are fun and funny, and even some action parts that were pretty cool, but they’re far and few between. Also the main thing that pulled me out of the experience were the bad CGI effects, which really plague this movie.
Some of them I could deal with, but when it got to the point where Hellboy was fighting some giants, and you could easily tell David Harbour was in front of a green screen as the environment (which was just a plain, grass field mind you. No grass fields to film on in the real world?) and everything else was CG, that’s when it became a problem. The part that really got me was near the end (no spoilers of course) where there’s a mushy/touching scene between Hellboy and his adoptive father played by the great Ian McShane where horrible CG just ruins the moment. I was torn between having the feels and being upset at how terrible the effects were at the same time.
Moving on, at least the movie looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray, and I can only imagine it’s even better on the 4K release. The visuals are spot on which make the good parts look great and the bad CGI look…worse. The audio is really top notch as every action scene and fun quip comes through perfectly while bringing the boom when needed.
The special features are few but okay, starting with “Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn” that’s an hour long documentary broken into three parts which goes into the production of the movie, with some cast and crew interviews thrown in along with some behind the scenes stuff as well. “Previsualization” showcases some storyboard animatics for some of the scenes in the film, and lastly there’s some deleted scenes that neither add nor take away from the overall experience.
I so wanted to like Hellboy more than I did, but bad pacing and direction along with equally terrible CGI holds this back from what it could’ve been…a nice and fun love letter to both the comics and the Del Toro films. Instead it’s a sad, hellish mess of ideas gone bad with some glimmers of hope mixed in. Die-hard fans may enjoy and defend it, while everyone else will want to stay the hell away from this.