The race for worst movie of the year is heating up. You could even say it’s hotter than hell, now that “Hellboy” has taken the lead.
This awful, disgusting, unfunny, idiotically plotted comic book flick offends the senses as much as the rankest subway car on the hottest summer day. A fun-enough franchise back in the aughts, when it boasted future Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, the new reboot has been turned into a sludge-colored “Resident Evil” wannabe by his successor Neil Marshall.
It even shares the same star, Milla Jovovich, who plays an evil witch from King Arthur’s time named Nimue, who returns to the present day to wreak havoc. Ian McShane’s Professor Broom describes this vomit best: “Out there is a 5th century sorceress and a pig monster who want to destroy the city of London and the world!” And, it turns out, our brains.
Hellboy (David Harbour), a half demon, still works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense alongside his dad (McShane). During this nonsensical romp, he flies out to London to help a secret society called Osiris behead some rogue giants. While he’s cavorting around England’s mountains green, he gets caught up in this witchy business. Nimue is back, angry and out for blood, and only Hellboy can stop her. Merlin and Excalibur show up too, but by then it’s all a blur.
Harbour (“Stranger Things”) plays the hulking half-demon with a sardonic remove that he seems to think is a laugh riot. There’s nothing funny here, however, except the quality of the CGI animation. Even at the New York premiere, with the stars and creative team in attendance, the response was frigid.
As a murderous magician, Jovovich, too, is a wash. And, like everything else here, she’s gross. We get to see the actress’s eye dangling from her face after half her head is blown off, and you gag while her dismembered body is sewn back together by her witch pals. At other points in the movie, a morgue’s worth of humans are gruesomely torn in two, and an unwatchable scene features a mangled, ancient, nearly naked corpse crawling around like a scorpion.
Beyond its grotesque style, the main hurdle here is wrapping your head around the plot. It’s been 11 years since the last “Hellboy” film hit theaters with an entirely different cast and mood. Audiences could use a refresher as to who this guy is, who his friends are, and a dossier on some of its yucky beasts. The aforementioned mangled corpse, for example, is a cursed hag named Baba Yaga who has been banished to another dimension. Google taught me this. Why was she banished and what are we doing there? No clue.
Hellboy, as a character, also feels a lot less special these days. When he made his onscreen debut in 2004, his hero competition were righteous “with great power comes great responsibility” do-gooders such as Spider-Man, Batman and Superman. Now we have a ton of irreverent superher-bros: Iron Man, Ant-Man, Deadpool, Venom, Aquaman and more.
Next to them, a humongous demon from hell seems somehow ho-hum.