Cert 15 121mins Stars 2
Unrepentant for its blood-splattered gore, this comic book comedy horror reboot is brash, noisy and violent, reflecting the demonic character at the heart of the CGI-heavy action.
Under deadening layers of makeup, actor David Harbour tries manfully to bring life to Hellboy, a truculent government field agent attempting to prevent Milla Jovovich’s resurrected fifth century sorceress from starting the apocalypse.
Though as she wants to save us all from the hell of Reality TV, I don’t think she’s all that evil.
Rattling around England in pursuit of a decent script, Hellboy is accompanied by Sasha Lane’s very modern fortune teller, and a SWAT team leader with a secret agenda of his own.
As Hellboy’s adoptive father and boss of the US paranormal research bureau where Hellboy works, Ian McShane uses every ounce of his foul-mouthed and scene-stealing experience to bring energy and humour to this frequently flat exercise.
This is a very different beast to Hellboy’s previous cinematic incarnation in a pair of films from over a decade ago. Original director and writer, Guillermo del Toro, bailed out and went off to win Oscars for his fishy romance, The Shape of Water.
And fans of his elegant and stylish version will be horrified by way director, Neil Marshall, brings a much more action-orientated approach.
Clearly the genial Geordie was watching the same video nasties I saw growing up, and indulges his taste for gory thrills first seen in his 2002 werewolf debut, Dog Soldiers.
Throwing in an army of demons, flaming weapons, shoot-outs and Scouser Stephen Graham as a half-human warthog, it’s evident Marshall shares with Terry Gilliam a love of fairytales and Arthurian legend as well as a gleeful taste for the grotesque.
But there’s little tension or chemistry, the CGI looks cheap, and the hardworking editing disguises a lot of sins, leaving this to feel more like purgatory than a hellish good time.