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In 2004, Hellboy finally made his big screen debut, with Ron Perlman inhabiting the eponymous role and Guillermo del Toro writing and directing the movie. Both that and its 2008 sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, received mostly positive reviews, but they weren’t huge commercial hits, and despite fans hoping for years that Hellboy III would eventually get made, it never did.
Instead, Lionsgate decided to give Hellboy the reboot treatment, but if you were hoping that this latest theatrical adventure starring Big Red comes anywhere close to being as good as its predecessors, if not better, it sounds like you’ll be disappointed. Hellboy reviews are pouring in online, and not only do many of them paint the reboot as the Dark Horse Comics character’s worse theatrical outing yet, but also as a subpar comic book movie in general.
CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg was disappointed with how Hellboy turned out, giving it 2 out of 5 stars in his review. He noted that while there are parts of the movie are handled reasonably, like certain story elements and and the look of this Hellboy, overall it’s a “messy piece of work that doesn’t seem quite sure what it wants to be or who it’s for” which especially suffers from bad one-liners and “clever” bits.
Hellboy is definitely a disappointment. As has been proven in the past, this is a character with a lot of big screen potential storywise, but the earlier movies suffered because they couldn’t find an audience, and this one suffers because it feels like it tried to throw everything at the wall in hopes of circumventing that same issue. It’s not a disaster, but with talent like Neil Marshall and David Harbour involved one expected better.
Over at Slashfilm, Josh Spiegel went many steps further in the negative direction and called Hellboy one of the worst comic book movies ever made, awarding it only a 1/10 score. Among the many adjectives Spiegel used to describe Hellboy include unpleasant, dreadful, obnoxious, unnecessary and interminable. In his opinion, both Hellboy’s humor and action fail to hit properly, and David Harbour fails to shine as the heroic demon.
Rebooting the character more than a decade after Guillermo del Toro’s series came to an end is fine. Del Toro’s Hellboy films are charming and feature tactile-seeming creatures, but they weren’t perfect. That’s still a vast improvement over this new film, which feels like a mistake from the start and gets worse from there.
Nerdist’s Kyle Anderson was kinder towards Hellboy, giving it a 3 out of 5 score. He acknowledged that since he was already a fan of the Hellboy comics, he was satisfied with much of what he saw, but people unfamiliar with this mythos might not feel the same way. That said, the movie’s faithfulness to the source material ends up being a burden with regard to looking like a unique/special product.
If you have longed for the Hellboy of the page to hit the screen, this movie will scratch some itches. You want a fun, bloody monster movie? You'll probably have a decent time. If you're expecting a big superhero blockbuster that hits every Joseph Campbell beat, this might not be the devil you need.
Leigh Monson from Birth.Movies.Death. was among those “disappointed” by Hellboy, taking issue with its convoluted plot, unlikable characters, “haphazard” editing and more. The entire product is filled with “strange, dumb-as-rocks” creative choices that ultimately form with the “inherent weirdness” of the source material to create a kind of “bizarro charm.”
Hellboy is some very ill-advised cinema, and those who enjoy the prospect of cinematic trainwrecks are likely to get some joy out of this. Everyone else... well, you all know where to find the better version.
io9’s Charles Pulliam-Moore felt that Hellboy was a “textbook example” of the kind of movie where, when watching it, you can pick up on “echoes” of what it was intended to be earlier in the production process. In its final form, though, Hellboy plays as more of a ‘greatest hits’ from the Hellboy comics that uses its R-rating not for proper scares, but “excessive amounts of gratuitous bloodshed.”
Like two great tastes that somehow don’t go well together, Hellboy’s greatest sin is that it makes you long for the film that it might have been because there’s so much about the movie that works in a vacuum. David Harbour absolutely nails the charming, lunk-ish aspects of Hellboy’s personality, and a handful of the film’s action sequences are legitimately fun to watch before you get back to the slog of the rest of the film. Sadly, those few bright spots aren’t likely to convince anyone that this reboot deserves to be a jumping off point for a new series or doing the Hellboy franchise any favors.
Finally, John DeFore from The Hollywood Reporter acknowledged that while the broad strokes of Andrew Cosby’s Hellboy script fit pretty well with the universe Mike Mignola created, there are too many action sequences, its characters are uninteresting and the design of Hellboy himself is questionable.
… Neil Marshall's Hellboy isn't lousy because nobody wants it, nor only because it fails to live up to both its big-screen and printed predecessors. It's just lousy. Bloated, vastly less funny than it aims to be and misguided in key design choices even when it scores with less important decisions, the film does make bold choices that might have paid off under other circumstances. But these aren't those circumstances.
These are just some of the Hellboy reviews making the rounds, so feel free to browse around other corners of the internet to see what other people have to say. Still, it doesn’t look like this movie will go down as a critical darling, and if its performance at the box office reflects this mediocre response, one probably shouldn’t get their hopes up of the reboot launching a new film series. In any case, if you’re not interested in checking out Hellboy, you can still get your comic book movie fix this month by checking out Shazam! and/or waiting for Avengers: Endgame.
You can judge Hellboy for yourself starting this Friday, April 12. Those of you interested in learning what other movies are coming out later this year can look through our 2019 release schedule.