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Yikes, Hellboy Is Getting Some Horrifying Reviews

Hellboy starring David Harbour

The third Hellboy movie, now starring Stranger Things‘ David Harbour and lots of red prosthetics, is being eviscerated in early critical reactions. While audiences haven’t weighed in on this one yet, if the reviews are any indication, you may want to stay away.

The first two Hellboy films, adapted from the adventures of Mike Mignola’s popular comics character, were directed by our friend-to-monsters favorite Guillermo del Toro. They have the advantage of the unique aesthetic, humor, and heart del Toro infuses into his work, and the affable Ron Perlman as Hellboy. The movies have a considerable cult following, which is the only reason I can imagine this third film was greenlit. Without del Toro in the director’s chair (he’s replaced by The Descent‘s Neil Marshall), it seems as though the whole hellish venture has rather fallen apart.

Let’s dive into some of the critical reaction around this Hellboy (re)incarnation, which sports the tagline “He’s got demons.” The film currently stands at 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it stars the likes of Harbour, Milla Jovovich (as the “evil ancient sorceress” Nimue, which makes my Arthurian heart hurt), Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, and Daniel Dae Kim. All of them deserve a better vehicle than this. The general consensus appears to be that the movie is an overstuffed, gory mess, though several reviewers have praised some standout action sequences.

Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times:

This aural and visual assault poses the question: Exactly how much stimulation do studios think audiences need?

A great deal, apparently, as this new “Hellboy” (with David Harbour replacing the irreplaceable Ron Perlman as our knobheaded hero) tears through multiple countries, 16 centuries and a bevy of supernatural sources to save mankind from, among other things, a bunch of enraged giants. (The insane script, a bedlam of witches, fairies, Nazis and ectoplasm, is by Andrew Cosby.)

[…] Marshall, a world away from the dank dread and crawling terror of his 2006 spelunking stunner, “The Descent,” directs like a dog at a squirrel convention, charging gleefully from one witlessly violent encounter to the next. Ian McShane, as Hellboy’s adoptive father, does what he can to calm the chaos, but the movie left me alternately baffled and battered.

Phil de Semlyen, Time Out:

Run and hide from this overbearing, incoherent and unnecessary reboot of the franchise.

[…] It’s two hours long but feels like an eternity, lurching incoherently from one noisy set-piece to another.

[…] None of this is especially the fault of Hellboy himself (David Harbour from Stranger Things), who does what he can to inhabit the demon of Mike Mignola’s comic-book series with sardonic one-liners, grumpy likability and a sense of inner conflict. It is, however, the fault of just about everything else here, from the overstuffed script to a jarringly postmodern prelude set in 517 A.D. “It was known as the Dark Ages,” smirks the voiceover, “and for fuckin’ good reason.”

Rafer Guzman, Newsday:

Today, “Hellboy” is the franchise that could have been — and, judging by an execrable new reboot, probably never will be.

[…] He’d be right at home in “The Expendables,” except that his one-liners have a supernatural bent. (“Didn’t your mother teach you not to play with dead things?” he hollers at a warthog clutching a human limb.)

[…] Extreme may even be an understatement: We’re talking about impalements, decapitations, ripped torsos, spilled entrails, you name it.

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph:

“Stop! This isn’t you, Hellboy! You’re better than this!” bellows Ian McShane over the ambient din in this new adaptation of the cult Dark Horse comic book about a demonic secret agent with planed-down horns and a paranormal brief.

Admirers of the two existing, very fine and fairly recent Guillermo del Toro films inspired by the same series may well find themselves groaning in agreement.

Brian Truitt, USA Today:

Just like Big Red’s travel schedule, “Hellboy” is kind of all over the place, with two hours’ worth of adventures (and misadventures) that never gel cohesively and momentum-killing flashback origin stories for pretty much every main character. What’s most frustrating are the fleeting moments of awesomeness that show what the film could have been, like a really neat, retro-pulpy and all-too-short sequence featuring earnest throwback hero Lobster Johnson (Thomas Haden Church) dealing with some Nazis.

Perri Nemiroff, Collider Video:

Have plans to see the new Hellboy? Do these reviews sway you, or challenge you to see if you agree? At least we can all agree that Milla Jovovich looks amazing.

Milla Jovovich in Hellboy as Nimue

(images: Lionsgate)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.