Back in 2004 when Del Toro brought Mike Mignola’s seminal superhero to life, there was a lot of fan bitching but, with wit, charm, and vision the director quickly won-over his critics. A second, highly-lauded, film followed and we all waited with baited breath for the third, to finish what promised to be a memorable trilogy.
Fifteen years on, what we get under Neil Marshall’s (Dog Soldiers) direction is an all-new Hellboy reboot of sorts with some attempt to tie-up that apocalyptic storyline hinted at by Del Toro. Of sorts because this is a film that really can’t make its mind up what it’s trying to do, seemingly rambling from one storyline to another, trying to cram in as many characters and ideas as possible, and making a horrible, bloated mess of the whole thing.
David Harbour (Stranger Things) mumbles his way through his lines though, when you can hear the dialogue, he does quite well at stepping into Ron Perlman’s oversized red shoes. There are some nice additions to the team, with Sasha Lane putting in a memorable performance as Alice Monaghan, despite a wandering accent, and Stephen Graham (This is England) offering solid comic relief as the boar-fairy Gruagach.
But, for all it’s action and gore—and there’s a lot of that—Hellboy doesn’t fail because it’s not the third part of the trilogy we were hoping for. It doesn’t fail because it offers up new faces and new takes on well-known characters. It fails because it’s boring. At 116 minutes, it feels much, much longer.
A missed opportunity wrapped up in shaky SFX.