Hellboy is a re-adaptation of the comic book superhero of the same name, and follows his exploits through the dark and macabre underworld and fantasy realms that surround Earth, as he protects those that fear him. In this particular entry, he sets out to stop the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) before she unleashes her plague upon the world.
This remake is rife with issues and annoyances that drive me crazy, but it was admittedly sprinkled throughout a film that was quite entertaining and full of fun horror eye candy. Make no mistake, that won't stop me from letting this film have it...
Firstly, there are innate problems with remakes of superheroes...the most obvious is the origin story conundrum. Do you dare repeat it for the thousandth time?...Yeah, we've only seen Hellboy's on the big screen once before, but we get the idea...If you're going to bother working his origins into exposition conversation between him and his father, there is absolutely no need to cut back in time and show us. This film does this repeatedly throughout its 2-hour runtime. Using relentless exposition from countless faces, then doing a flashback to show us anyway.
This film made a valiant effort to leave nothing to the imagination. And while that's more commendable in the relentless violence, it's far more annoying in the plot. And speaking of which, the film is stuffed to the rafters with exposition and plot elements that are so unnecessary that I feel like I didn't need the Blood Queen at all. She feels like the most pointless and monotonous villain, not only in the over-stuffed plot with a character introduced every other scene, but in concept as well, with her script nearly mirroring Rasputin's from the first film, replacing a few words to make her intentions sound more like seduction than manipulation. If the F word was dropped one more time, I was going to snap...and by that I mean "Fate"...Yet, in the end, the plot was near-identical in that way, and made me want the Blood Queen entirely removed from the film.
And what a film it would have been! Baba Yaga and Gruagach steal the show from an antagonist perspective, and with a slight tweak to both characters' motivations, you wouldn't even need the queen. Baba Yaga's scenes in particular feel more relevant and personal to Hellboy's inner struggle, while giving us that unique, macabre world that Hellboy inhabits.
The only thing good about the Blood Queen is the inevitable flood of demonic monsters she helps spew forth in the climax. The brief glimpses we get of these Silent-Hill-on-steroids beasts is far more exciting than anything we get in the familiar and predictable dialogue between Hellboy and the Blood Queen. There's a really good Hellboy film in here, it's just muddled by unoriginal scripting, an over-stuffed plot, and "buckets" of CG blood that feel more like a poor attempt at fan service rather than legitimate Hellboy macabre.
But, to make sure I end on a positive note, I thought David Harbour was a fantastic Hellboy that more than carried his own outside of Perlman's shadow. His delivery was great and he carried the sarcastic, gruff demeanor perfectly. His scenes with Ian McShane were mostly great and, as mentioned before, there are some highly entertaining monster/antagonist scenes featuring beasties like in our comic and Baba Yaga and Gruagach. That alone makes me want to watch it again, but knowing I'll have to wade through a lot of garbage to enjoy the parts I loved.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 5/10 Film Quality: 5/10