Even though it’s a comic book movie reboot that nobody was really asking for, the new “Hellboy” is still a pretty fun supernatural action film with an entertaining lead character.
Just don’t go in expecting the same magic that has made the 2004 original a cult classic. This isn’t a sequel. This is a reboot because the movie studio wasn’t about to let such a potentially lucrative comic book property gather dust. They largely pull it off, with solid action, quippy banter and good enough CGI and practical special effects.
It’s too bad that the movie is already expected to bomb at the box office. “Hellboy” clearly intended to be the start of a fun new franchise.
“Hellboy” is a supernatural action thriller about a gruff but lovable demon who was raised by a human father to fight monsters and other evil bad guys. To paraphrase the first film, when something goes bump in the night, Hellboy is the one who bumps back. In this new movie, Hellboy and his pals go up against the resurrected Queen of Blood, who believes it is Hellboy’s destiny to become her evil king.
The film features a whole lot of Hellboy punching bad guys and being generally charming, in his rough-around-the-edges type of way. Actor David Harbour does a fine job in the lead role, even when buried under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. He’s funny and heroic, always willing to get back up when knocked down — usually so that he can punch whoever knocked him down.
And the film gives Hellboy a lot to punch. There’s one action or fight scene after another, filled with pretty solid special effects. Hellboy and his allies fight through a bunch of gnarly battles until the day is saved. And the film uses its R-rating to say a lot of swear words and to drench the film in blood.
But “Hellboy” the movie is nothing special. There’s nothing in the film that audiences haven’t seen before, often done better in other movies. There’s nothing that truly stands out as worthy of starting a new comic book franchise. And considering there are already two fondly remembered Hellboy movies from the 2000s still around, nothing about this new reboot needed to happen.
The new film also dives far too deep into its own lore. As a comic book, Hellboy has been around since the early 1990s. And the producers of the new film wanted a closer match between movie and comics, as if they could rely on Hellboy comic book fans to carry the film. I don’t think that’s going to work out for them.
“Hellboy” has more than 20 years worth of comics to draw from, and the film doesn’t hesitate to cram characters, stories, cameos, references and more from those two decades into the film. Every main character gets their own flashback origin story in the new film, and a bunch of obscure comic characters get prominent cameos; as if their presence alone might earn the film some extra credit.
But in the end, no matter how many comic book references the new film makes, “Hellboy” only really succeeds in being a mildly entertaining action movie. And there’s already a bunch of those at the theater.