There’s a scene about midway through Hellboy in which a giant sword goes through a monster’s head, virtually splitting it in half, unleashing a reservoir of blood, and showing some of the blood and brains underneath the skull. While taking in that moment, I thought to myself, “I think that’s what watching this movie feels like.”
I was rooting for the 2019 reboot of Hellboy. It was going to be too easy to dismiss this movie and say Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman did it better — twice — without even seeing this new version. But the wave of early reviews seemed to confirm what so many feared when this project was announced. Was there really any point to reviving Hellboy if there wasn’t anything new to offer?
Part of the sales pitch for this new Hellboy, directed by Neil Marshall and starring David Harbour, is that the movie would be based more closely on the source comic books by Mike Mignola (although Del Toro’s 2004 film had elements from the comics as well) and that will always make fans’ horns point a bit higher. Mignola himself seemed to endorse that narrative, which implied that Del Toro took his movies in a slightly different direction from the comic books.