A recently released report has suggested that the upcoming reboot of Hellboy was something of a nightmare behind the scenes, with rushed rewrites, conflicts between high-ranking staff members, and walkouts perpetrated by a principal cast member. This comes on the heels of a surprisingly negative reception from critics (including Screen Rant's own review) as the film currently sits at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
When the Hellboy reboot was announced in 2017, some fans were noticeably upset that the original films, which were directed by Guillermo del Toro and starred Ron Perlman, would not see a third and final entry to wrap things up. Still, some held out hope that the new, David Harbour (Stranger Things) fronted reboot would capture the dark horror feel of the original comics. With an R-rating confirmed earlier this year, that seemed to be the direction that the Neil Marshall-helmed film would go in. The aforementioned early reviews, however, seem to indicate that the reboot is something of a disaster, focusing too much on being violent instead of being a consistently good film.
To make matters worse, The Wrap released a report of various behind the scenes struggles during the making of Hellboy. Among these issues is the alleged firing of cinematographer (and long time Marshall collaborator) Sam McCurdy by producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin to make it clear that Marshall was not in charge of the film. To add to this, the report also alleges that Harbour walked off of set on more than one occasion, refusing to do more takes of certain scenes at the request of Marshall. Three insiders also revealed that Levin would come on to the set of Hellboy and give them acting instructions that differed from Marshall's.
More insiders who worked on the film also claim that the script was tweaked by Harbour and co-star Ian McShane and that there was a rather bizarre argument over the look of a tree that appears throughout the film. It's important to note that Levin's attorney, Martin Singer, has disputed all of these claims and even accuses Marshall of encouraging the story about McCurdy, calling the report a "puff-piece" for the director.
It's certainly not unheard of for there to be disputes between directors and producers during the production of a major Hollywood film. With how poorly Hellboy is fairing among critics, it would be easy to believe that it was the result of a communication breakdown between the higher ups in charge of production. There's also merit to Singer's response, and it could just as easily be damage control by Marshall and others who worked on the film. Either way, fans and those who weren't actually on set with Marshall, Levin and the rest of the cast and crew will likely never learn exactly what happened during the production of Hellboy.
Regardless, it's a shame that Hellboy likely won't live up to the much-beloved del Toro films, which were praised for their writing, fantastical tone and performances (especially Perlman as the title character). Pushing for a more brutal and bloody tone was likely the right move for the reboot to differentiate itself from those past movies, even if it seemingly failed to make a good movie in the process. Still, fans do not necessarily agree with critics all the time, so perhaps they will embrace the film more when it releases this weekend.
- Hellboy (2019) release date: Apr 12, 2019