The reboot of Dark Horse Comics’ property is a blizzard of blood and guts with neither 

cohesion nor wit.


Graphic, but not novel: David Harbour as Hellboy


Just when you thought you couldn’t take any more computer-generated imagery, along comes Hellboy. A deranged medley of mayhem, it’s ostensibly a reboot of the franchise written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, itself adapted from the Dark Horse graphic novel. Del Toro, who went on to win an Oscar for directing The Shape of Water (2017), declined to be involved with the new film, and you can’t blame him. It is entirely pointless, shapeless and meaningless.


If there’s a thread of storyline, it loosely concerns the spawn of Satan (and, apparently, a Nazi), who’s actually not such a bad guy and has a nice way with a dry put-down. He’s then recruited by his foster father, Trevor Bruttenholm (a profane Ian McShane), in order to prevent the resurrection of a fifth-century witch hell-bent on global destruction. All sorts of complications ensue, not to mention geysers of gore and countless severed heads.


The new director, the English filmmaker Neil Marshall, is not known for his mastery nor his subtlety. He’s like a mischievous child who’s been let loose in a paint shop. Unfortunately, he Jackson Pollocks every pop-cultural model he can think of, lampooning – and plagiarizing – everything from Predator and The Lord of the Rings to Howl’s Moving Castle and Gremlins.


The tone of the film is hard to ascertain. Marshall’s bloodlust is so Pythonesque that it’s not funny, although the film’s arbitrary structure does recall the Pythons’ sketch film And Now For Something Completely Different. One suspects Marshall is aiming for a kind of sickly comic apocalyptic spectacle, but the relentless, episodic nature of the film – augmented by ear-splitting heavy metal music (Alice Cooper, Mötley Crüe, Muse) – makes Hellboy virtually unwatchable.




Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Stephen Graham, Daniel Dae Kim, Sophie Okonedo, Alistair Petrie, Brian Gleeson, Penelope Mitchell, Laila Morse, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Stanley.


Dir Neil Marshall, Pro Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Richardson, Philip Westgren, Carl Hampe, Matt O'Toole, Les Weldon and Yariv Lerner, Screenplay Andrew Cosby, Ph Lorenzo Senatore, Pro Des Paul Kirby, Ed Martin Bernfeld, Music Benjamin Wallfisch, Costumes Stephanie Collie.


Entertainment/Millennium Media/Lawrence Gordon Productions/Dark Horse Entertainment/Nu Boyana/Campbell Grobman Films-Lionsgate.

120 mins. USA/UK/Bulgaria. 2019. Rel: 11 April 2019. Cert. 15.