Overall, the movie is worth a single watch and thats about it, and in almost every way is inferior to the Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman previous installments, and I went into this with an open mind because I like Hellboy and David Harbour and Ian McShane is a national treasure. So here it is, 7 Reasons why Hellboy 2019 just didn't cut it.
1. Color Palette and Hue
The previous installments of Hellboy has been both delightfully dark and colorful, giving us vividly colored characters against equally dark but visually gorgeous backgrounds. This installment fails to do this, and does something even worse, it is wildly inconsistent in its palette and hue, with some scenes harking back to the visually delightful color layout, but most scenes alternating between being washed out, monochromatic, and jarringly 'filmed with an iPhone' bottom dollar budget camera normal lighting. This isnt automatically a deal breaking, but when Hellboy fighting a trio of giants in England shouldn't look my backyard. I dont care if that is actually what the location in England/Scotland looks like, cinema is supposed to build on visuals and connotations and fighting mythical monsters from Celtic mythology shouldnt have the same visual color, hue, and saturation as a hand filmed documentary on the East Tennessee Bell Witch.
This was consistently jarring and knocked me out of the immersive experience.
2. Floating CG
One of the biggest problems of CG is that when poorly done, the CG elements 'float' above the scene in a manner very similar to 80s cartoons where static backgrounds and moving elements were layered together and it was super obvious that there was layering. The CG use is not especially well done, considering this was a theatrical release and was supposed to reboot and relaunch the franchise. The CG action constantly floated above the scene, and the lighting was never right, some characters would be bright against dark backgrounds, and a certain character always looked wet, instead of looking like a were-creature. This was on par with a SyFy movie of the week offering, and really disappointing. Likewise, the Hellboy Triumphant vision looked 100% pulled from a high end video game cutscene and was a painfully WTF moment that should have been full of awe and power and dread.
3. WTF Soundtrack
Some recent offerings, like Guardians of the Galaxy and Stranger Things have made fantastic use of the soundtrack to elevate the cinematic experience, mixing pop and rock music with classical music and scores made for the film. While there are some good songs on the soundtrack, they do not go with the scenes they are in, and some of the music was just bizarrely chosen. The quality of the audio likewise suffered from the same meshing and integrating issues the color and CG suffered from, leaving the entire film feel like a very poorly put together car. The radio doesnt work right, the engine cant find a consistent RPM, and the steering is atrocious.
There were a few songs on the score that left me cringing and hoping that they wouldn't be so piercing and so long. It was more Adult Swim absurdist music rather than rousing.
4. Comic Realism and Shit Make-up
Hellboy looked like doughy faced red shit. I know it was supposed to be more comic accurate, but while Mike Mignola has a distinctive style, visually awesome is not a word I would use to describe it. I will back this up with the supporting fact, I watched the movie with a guy with years of Hollywood and make-up effects experience, including working on Hollywood feature films and he also said the make up looked like shit. Hellboy wasnt natural, the facial appliances were thick and stiff, and everyone else was either normal, or was 100% CG. Milla Jovovich looked fine, but the Blood Queen was never especially bloody, or imposing, or even especially seductive. This is sad considering how supernatural the previous movies made Selma Blair's pyrokinetic Liz appear otherworldly wreathed in flames, and Doug Jones was a scene stealer as Abe Sapien, and Princess Nuala (Anna Walton in the Golden Army) was splendidly fae. Milla looks like an angry braless woman gesturing at a green screen.
5. The Blood Queen
The Blood Queen, what a splendid and evocative, if not the most imaginative name. There have been other big bad Queens who've stolen the scene when they appeared. The Queen of Blades, Sarah Kerrigan, was imposing. The Xenomorph Queen still inflicts nightmares, and many of the Disney evil queens have their own cult and fetish followings. Then we have the Blood Queen, played by the delightful Milla Jovovich, an actress I already favor. I enjoyed her performances in Resident Evil, the Fifth Element, and less high profile films like Ultraviolet. Instead of action, instead of presence, instead of the Blood Queen being an emotion and libido twisting monster, she is angry and stands around in a very low cut dirty dress that makes her as shapeless and homeless looking as possible.
I wanted a succubus, a vampire queen, and goddess of blood and seduction and death, and I got a bloodless, completely non-royal, filthy hobo shrieking and waving at greenscreens
6. Ham and Cheese Tropes
Tropes when used well and solid tools in storytelling, and when used poorly, are cliche. Then there is ham and cheese troping, when you take something that is normally okay, but mashing it in someone's face is just rude. Its disrespectful to the source material, disengenuous to the story being told, and is essentially a betrayal, much like being the recipient of a ham and cheesing. Google it, urban dictionary.
This is exactly what happens with Hellboy and the Arthurian mythology. The treatment of Excaliber, the corpse of Arthur, and Merlin were just shit, and the identity of the Blood Queen, Nimue, was shockingly divorced from the mythology. The revelation of Hellboy's lineage is possibly the most idiotic thing I've seen in a bloodlne revelation including the revea of who created Rey in the new Star Wars fiasco.
7. Jon Favreau and Moments of Levity
Cinema events are rollercoaster rodeos of loud music, blistering action, and unimaginable and dramatic games, that sometimes a pause, a moment of clarity, humor, or just a breath, can give the viewer a chance to rally themselves before embarking on the next romp. Rodeos have the pause before the bull is released, rollercoasters have the moment where they hang on the precipice before rocketing forward again, and Jon Favreau has all but mastered this in his films. Sometimes it only takes a moment for everyone to catch up, for their emotions to reach a moment of equilibrium, or to take a moment to bask in a personal moment. The original Hellboy had tense moments where Perlman's Hellboy would crack jokes. The Mandalorian has the scout troopers and their can shooting drink. MiB had Will Smith making jokes between scenes of high stakes. Possibly one of the best moments of levity occurred at the end of the Avengers, where the heroes are sitting in the schwarma shop, just eating, no lines, no jokes, just schwarma and quiet.
Hellboy has moments where there could be a static scene, with some witty banter, or an emotional moment, and everything is rushed, or cut short. There is no rally moment in the film, and thats disappointng.
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