Hellboy 0.0 stars

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There’s a real story here, a struggle of nature and nurture that has genuinely apocalyptic stakes, since the titular critter is prophesied to bring about the firey, blood-soaked end of the world even as he’s been raised to protect and defend that self-same world from the forces of darkness. (Also, even if those he’s defending carry more than a little of that darkness in their own hearts.) But damn if you can find it, buried as it is under a slag-heap of sub-adolescent hijinks: the super-gratuitious f-bombs and gore (“Hey, we got ourselves an R rating; let’s make it count!”), the headbanging electric guitar work, the hacky comic-strip dialogue (“Well, well, well: King Arthur” —really?), and tone-deaf, vascillating direction from Neil Marshall. (Sometimes, he seems to care about a scene; other times, he seems to care about getting through it.) It’s a pity, because there are good bits if you’re willing to pick through the viscera, starting with David Harbour’s grumpy performance in the lead and moving on through some decent fight sequences, cleverly conceived characters, and compelling mythology. It could have been a good time at the movies; as it is, it just feels like a long time.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 2 hours

Rated: PG-13

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